Photo credit: David Gruen

Earlier this year, HOF band Chicago announced that Wally Reyes, Jr., was going to assume drumming duties as he moved from percussion to drums to take over for Tris Imboden. What followed was an extensive tour and after many months of digesting the “drumming” body of work offered by Reyes, the grades are now in and we are awarding Wally an A+ for his efforts.

We could recite chapter and verse our reasons for issuing the highest grade that Reyes could earn but instead, we will offer these salient thoughts.

First, one has to consider that Wally had to get up to speed on a different instrument and also fill some big shoes that were left behind by friend and colleague (and fan favorite) Tris Imboden. Accomplishing this took considerable talent, which Reyes has, and, it appeared from day one that the band was not going to miss a beat despite a change in drummers. The ability to orchestrate a seamless transition should not be overlooked. 

Second, as remarkable as Reyes was as a percussionist for Chicago, he proved to be equally as remarkable as a drummer which should not come as a surprise to readers. Prior stints with marque performers such as Santana and Wally’s uber-quality performances on his debut solo album left little in doubt as to his drumming abilities. The mastery of two instruments is also nothing to take lightly.

However, the most compelling evidence supporting his grade is his playing and nothing corroborates this better than a brand new release of Reyes and percussionist Ramon Yslas performing Chicago’s epic track I’m A Man. Frankly, Wally’s performance speaks for itself. However, what we found refreshing about this particular performance was how “entertaining” and melodic it was. Reyes has opted to deviate from the typical drum solo which all too often is predicated on pure speed. Instead, Reyes has engineered fills and solos that incorporate rhythms, grooves, and melodies that are performed effortlessly and cleanly. In essence, his solos are songs unto themselves and that is refreshing and in our eyes, Reyes joins those select few drummers like Neil Peart and John Bonham who were able to construct entertaining and distinctive solos that even the most untrained ears could recognize.

Reyes introduced this new video on his Facebook page as follows:

Thus, we offer the following video as evidence which we feel proves our case beyond any doubt.

We congratulate Wally Reyes, Jr., on his grade, a grade that we feel is well deserved. We also look forward to many more performances with Chicago and hopefully more solo work from Wally World as well. Way to go Wally.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor