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In just three short years, Leonid & Friends has blown the minds of legions of fans with their uncanny ability to capture the spirit, musicality and fire of American supergroup Chicago.
And what is even more stunning is that Leonid & Friends hasn’t seen Chicago perform live, yet replicates the band’s complex arrangements amazingly note for note.
"Chicago has never been in Russia and none of us have attended their concerts," said Leonid Vorobyev, a multi-instrumentalist who is the band’s leader. "We have only audio records and videos (to help us learn Chicago songs)."
Vorobyev wasn’t always a fan of horn bands, and as a teenager gravitated to the hard driving guitar-based sounds of the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple and Grand Funk Railroad.
"In the early 1970s in the USSR, electric guitars, amplifiers and drums were rare to find so at school we were playing self-made instruments," Vorobyev explained. "We were allowed to rehearse in the same room with a horns band. Those musicians almost always were drunk and quite often tried to play with us our rock songs. It was nightmare and I hated them all!"
But that all changed when Vorobyev heard Chicago. He became an instant fan. "I loved so much the brilliant mixture of rock guitars, drums and jazz horns with bright vocal harmonies," he said.
In 2014, Vorobyev decided to indulge his love for the band by gathering a few fellow musicians in a studio to record a video of them playing his favorite Chicago tune, Brand New Love Affair.