The lore and success of the band Chicago did not happen by accident. The band–led by incredible talent, impeccable songwriting and arranging, and, a sheer determination to carry on despite whatever the musical industry threw at them–has continued to adapt and remain consistently strong following their formation in 1967. That was 51 years ago; a staggering fact and a feat that only a handful of groups have ever come close to achieving. One of the reasons the band has been able to excel for so long is their keen selection in talent and their ability to make smart personnel decisions.

Wally at work as a percussionist for Chicago

This week Chicago made another smart choice by turning to existing percussionist Walfredo “Wally” Reyes, Jr., to replace Tris Imboden on drums. Check out the announcement from the band below:

We will start by telling you that Wally is no stranger to us here at Beato’s Blog as a drummer. In fact, last year we reviewed his debut solo record aptly entitled Wally World. You can check out our review here. Wally World is simply a fantastic record and as for Wally’s drum work on the album, it’s a mastering display of a smorgasbord of styles and genres. Simply put, the man can really play drums; all types and all styles.

Add to that Wally’s resume of performing and/or recording with the likes of Santana, Traffic, Steve Winwood, Jackson Browne, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, David Lindley, Ricki Lee Jones, Richard Marx, Sergio Mendes, Smokey Robinson, Robbie Robertson, Joe Sample, Boz Scaggs, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Johnny Hallyday, Khaled, and Lindsey Buckingham, and you have a seasoned professional who is the right man for the job.

Wally performing with Santana
Pre-game with Wally and Tris Imboden

Thus, we think Chicago made the right choice in choosing Wally. First, Wally has been with the band for years and he knows what the show entails. Wally and Tris are close friends and they spent considerable time together while Tris was with the band so Wally hits the ground running. Second, Wally–in his own right–is a great drummer. His playing will delight fans and also turn some heads. Third, like Tris, Wally is a fan favorite. In fact, when we caught up with Wally last year in Atlantic City we could not help but notice that Wally seemed to know everybody in the building from the road crew to security to members in the other band touring with Chicago. Finally, and most importantly, Wally deserves this opportunity. He has earned it through all his hard work and time in the box. His resume speaks for itself and simply put, this was the right decision and we are thankful that Chicago made it.

The next time this man takes the stage it will be behind a drum kit

If there is one difficulty in this decision it will be in choosing a replacement for Wally as a percussionist. His poise, impact, effect, energy, and talent, as a percussionist, will not be easy to replace. Nevertheless, we are confident that Chicago will find a suitable replacement there too.

Wally is the epitome of a live performer

Chicago’s next show is not until February 7 in Las Vegas and fans not familiar with Wally’s work on the drum kit would be wise to listen to Wally World if they want a preview of what to expect. We’ve been there and it’s great so we know you will be thrilled. In the end, with this move, Chicago just keeps adding to their lore. We commend them for making the right decision and we wish Wally nothing but the best. Rock on brother!

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

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