How would you describe pre-power ballad "Chicago"

“Rock and roll with horns” doesn’t do them justice.

Kath and Cetera both have outstanding open vocals. The drums are wide open, the bass funky…maybe ‘the ultimate team band with incredibly slick production’?

Even if they had no horns, I still think they’d have a very unique sound.

A band with a rather varied oeuvre-their early stuff ran the gamut from straightforward hard rock (I’m a Man) to romantic ballads (Saturday in the Park), straight jazz (1st disc of VII), power pop (Feelin’ Stronger Every Day), along with a lot of experimental jams and such mixed in.

At some point, it all devolved into Peter Cetera ballads, for the most part, Terry Kath killed himself (which took away most of their straight rock pretensions), and a vibrant eclectic band was no more. Since they were my favorite band as a teen (during the mid-70’s), it was frustrating to see all of that happen-the first song of theirs that I outright loathed was Old Days (from VIII)…

Someone once said they were a a jazz band with heavy rock influences, compared to Blood Sweat & Tears, which was a rock band with heavy jazz influences. Made sense to me at the time.

Jazz-rock is a good capsule description. That was quite a niche circa 1970, with Chicago, BST, Chase, Lighthouse, Ides of March and a bunch of others.

Is there such a thing as “Art jazz”? Sort of like art-rock, but with a jazz band at the foundation instead of a rock band.

I always take the oppo to point out that Terry Kath is a criminally under-discussed guitarist. Freakishly shreddy but a gutty, soulful player as well.