During Chicago’s hey day, trumpeter Lee Loughnane was never the main focus. He was the sixth man on a basketball team, the first pinch-hitter off the bench, the kick-off return man on a football squad.
Every team needs members like Loughnane, however, because they often can make a difference between winning and losing a game – and, as any sports fan knows, one game can make a difference between becoming a champion or being the team that time forgot. Just ask the 2016 Cleveland Indians.
Loughnane has raised his profile considerably as Chicago aged ungracefully, because he is one of the original members who managed to survive the band’s inner turmoil all these years. He and Robert Lamm appear to be the group spokesmen these days. As part of this increased prominence over the years, Lee Loughnane has taken on a somewhat larger share of the composing and singing duties, while receiving inconsistent reviews in the process.
His all-star moment – the one in which he hit a pinch-hit grand slam, ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and hit a tie-breaking three pointer at the buzzer – was on Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album, the group’s 1998 holiday project.
Loughnane is a fine horn player, but an average singer at best. However, on “Let It Snow” he gives a solid performance with a soulful vocal. It’s also an upbeat arrangement that is meant to be fun, and it succeeds. “Let It Snow” also closes with one of the famed Chicago horn section’s 10 best moments. Lee Loughnane solos over the riff supplied by James Pankow (trombone) and Walt Parazaider (saxophone), with a few exhilarating bars as the song fades.
When listening in my car, I always play the great ending a second time. “Let It Snow” is easily the best song on the entire album.
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