2019 has been a big year for the “rock with horns” band from the Windy City, known for their style of music that combines guitars with brass and comes up with something that sounds like Jazz, Rock, and Amazingness (Yes, Amazingness is a genre of music!).

Starting off the year with a more than 100 city tour (I was part of that magic when they stopped off in Atlantic City, NJ on April 13, 2019), celebrating the 50th anniversary of their debut album Chicago Transit Authority, and the second year of a dazzling new lineup that includes a new Percussionist, Bassist, and Vocalist (their drummer, Walfredo Reyes, Jr., has been a part of the action since 2012 as their Percussionist), Chicago’s sound is as good in 2019 as it was in 1969, and when you say it’s “only the beginning,” it always does feel that way!

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Chicago at The Borgata Casino Resort and Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ. April 13, 2019 (Photo: Allison L. Preston)

Not content to rest on their laurels and enjoy the success and fame they’ve garnered in their 52-year existence, Chicago proves you’re only as good as your last big achievement and have released their fourth Christmas album (O Christmas Three, their previous – and obviously third – album was released in 2011).

Keepin’ It Original

The new effort produced eleven tracks, eight of which are original compositions.  In the past, the group put forth usually one or two original tracks (or re-worked covers of other classics to fit their type), but this is the biggest effort they’ve put forth with a Christmas album to date.  And considering the impressiveness of how they cover the classics, their originals have to be amazing, right?

Oh yes.

Chicago proves that their sound and songwriting abilities carry over nicely to original Christmas songs.

The original tracks are:

Because It’s Christmas

All Over The World

Bring My Baby Back

Merry Christmas, I Love You

All Is Right

I’d Do It All Again (Christmas Moon)

I’m Your Santa Claus

And of course, a few “standards” of Christmas:

Sleigh Ride 2019.  So why the “2019” distinction?  Chicago covered this song previously on What’s It Gonna Be, Santa?, with Jason Scheff and Lee Loughnane performing vocals. This time around, Loughnane throws in the “ring a ling a ling, ding dong ding” for their very nostalgic manager, Peter Schiaverelli.  The original version from their 2003 album has that night jazzy feel that Chicago is known for.  Both versions are great.

What the World Needs Now Is Love: Not a Christmas song, but I could see why this would be included.  Many have lost sight of what is important in this world, and at Christmastime, that gets heightened by about 1000.  We’re a society of angry, argumentative individuals, and sometimes, you just need a 1960s song to remind you that we are more than a society that bickers and hates.  (Those are my worlds, take it for what you will).

“Here We Come A Caroling”: Why they didn’t cover this one sooner, I have no idea.  I love the Latin-infused flair of this single (you can thank the very Latin-flavored drum/percussion section for that amazing influence).

Of Course They Made Another Album!

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Screenshot: YouTube – Chicago Christmas (Making Of)

The album wasn’t even intended to happen.  As Lee Loughnane explained to ABC Radio, they were just going to release a few bonus tracks to go with the re-releases of their previous material, since it does well for them.  And as you know (my words, not Lee’s), they’re not good at resting on their laurels.  So they brought eleven tracks together, eight of them their own work.  Within three months, they had an album.

The creative process is covered in a documentary on the band’s YouTube Channel (well, one of them – they maintain two channels).

Upload via Chicago Band

I’m very happy that Ray Hermann (Woodwinds) has taken such an active role in this – he was Walter Parazaider’s substitute on tour for quite a few years when he was unable to tour, but stepped into a permanent spot two years ago.  I’ve seen him in both concerts I’ve been to, and he brings a level of intensity to playing woodwind instruments that I never even knew existed.

Mostly because Walt always seemed to smile when he played. Ray just looks like he’s gonna beat you with his Saxophone.

So you have the album, but of course you have to promote it.  It goes back to “resting on laurels” – the name alone could probably sell the album, but don’t tell Chicago that.  They have no clue what “resting on laurels” is.  They’ve gotta plug the heck out of it.

So, back on the road they go, from The Windy City To The Big Apple!

The Whirlwind Tour…New York City Style!

As much as these guys love touring, once the tour is over, you think they’d go home take it easy…right?

Wrong.  So wrong.

They invaded New York City during the final week of November, and first week of December for a three-stop promotional tour, starting with The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, riding high atop the Hallmark Channel Float…

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Screenshots: YouTube Video Chicago Christmas in New York City! (Channel: Chicago Band)

…then on to The Today Show on Monday, December 2, 2019…

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Screenshot: YouTube Video Chicago Christmas in New York City! (Channel: Chicago Band)

…and then two days later front and center in front of the most famous Christmas Tree of them all.

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Screenshot: YouTube Video Chicago Christmas in New York City! (Channel: Chicago Band)

They even did a nice throwback to Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album for this one, singing “Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!,” 21 years after they performed it the first time!

Their ever-enterprising documentarian, Peter Pardini (nephew of Lou Pardini, and director of the documentary Now More Than Ever and their 2011 tour documentary) filmed all of it!

Upload via Chicago Band

Have A Very Chicago Christmas!

Chicago’s official YouTube Channel has made the album available on YouTube for your listening pleasure.  I’ve purchased it, because it’s required of me to do so, but I listened to it here first.  I absolutely love it, and have rotated it in with my other Chicago Christmas albums, not to mention all of my other Christmas music.  I love the flavor of original Chicago music with a Christmasy flair.

Consider it my early Christmas gift to you!

Upload via Chicago Band

Ok, Christmas gift until I publish my next article on here.  And all the gifts I give over on Allison’s Written Words.

You know what, just think of it as one of your gifts.  That works, right?

 

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