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Chase

Mention the term "jazz-rock" and listeners will likely think of such acts as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, and Weather Report, but in the early '70s a band called Chase rivaled all of them, and bid fair to take the country by storm; in fact, for a little while in 1971, they did precisely that with a chart-topping single, a Grammy nomination, and a high place in reader polls. Chase were formed by trumpet virtuoso Bill Chase in 1970, at a time when, thanks to outfits like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, the public was beginning an infatuation with jazz-rock fusion. Though their roots went back to 1968, Chase came along at just the right moment to ride that wave to major chart success in 1971, with the hit single "Get It On" and the accompanying self-titled debut album.

Bill Chase (born William Edward Chiaiese on October 24, 1934) hailed from Boston, MA; the family (which changed its name to "Chase" while Bill Chiaiese was a boy) was musical on both sides, especially his mother's -- one great-uncle had even played trumpet with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Bill Chase took up violin as a boy and later played percussion in the school band, but he found his real musical calling in 11th grade when, for the first time, he started playing the trumpet. He never looked back, and the only change in course on his way to a career was his shift from classical music to jazz, which took place around 1951, in the wake of attending a Stan Kenton concert, where he first encountered the playing of Maynard Ferguson. Chase later attended the Berklee School of Music, where he studied both classical and jazz, and his teachers included John Coffey and Herb Pomeroy.

In the course of a decade, from the mid-'50s through the mid-'60s, he went from playing in local Boston dance bands to playing with Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson -- he was recording with Ferguson in the late '50s and became a featured soloist, writer, and arranger in Woody Herman's Herd, and could be seen prominently in the Herd's appearances on television as well as heard on their records. He later established himself in Las Vegas and was requested as a musician whenever he could appear on The Ed Sullivan Show or The Tonight Show. The seeds for his own band were planted in 1968, at just about the point when he found himself growing bored with the lot of a star soloist and began looking for a new vehicle through which to express himself and play his music. He began putting a group of his own together informally that year, and pulled together the beginnings of a core of a permanent band in 1969 -- this was the group that was eventually known as Chase, once it coalesced the following year. Bill Chase's original notion was that it would be an instrumental outfit, but he later added room for a singer and for vocals in the group's work, in order to extend its range and audience appeal.

The lineup that made it to their actual first record, in addition to Bill Chase, consisted of Jay Burrid on drums, Phil Porter on keyboards, Dennis Johnson on bass and vocals, John Palmer on guitar, and Alan Ware, Jerry Van Blair, and Ted Piercefield on trumpet (the latter two also sang), with Terry Richards on lead vocals. All of these musicians were superb, though it was the four trumpets that gave the band its edge and distinctive sound. Chase were signed to Epic Records and were roaring up the charts in 1971 with "Get It On," an original that they'd been kicking around for months in various lineups (and initially without words), blasting it out over AM radio right to the number one spot. The group's debut album marked its musical and commercial peak -- Chase were nominated for a Grammy Award that same year, and Bill Chase placed in the number two spot (behind Frank Zappa) in a poll of the top pop musicians of the year, while Down Beat rated the Chase LP as the top pop album of 1971. Ironically, that first album sounded at times just a little bit like the original late-1967-era Al Kooper-led version of Blood, Sweat & Tears, a group whose inspiration had also come from Maynard Ferguson (in that case, Kooper's admiration for Ferguson's sound).

Chase delivered even more in their live performances where, by most accounts, they seemed to put out a 100 percent effort at every show. Indeed, they wrecked some of their potential as an opening act because their performances were so strong and overpowering that they embarrassed the headliners. Their reputation soon expanded beyond national boundaries as Chase toured Europe, Africa, and Asia, and in 1972 they recorded a second album, entitled Ennea -- by the time it was cut, Burrid had been replaced by Gary Smith and Terry Richards was out, replaced by G.G. Shinn who, in addition to singing, also played the trumpet. Unfortunately, this was also when Bill Chase, who had written the material for the new album, lost the ear of the critics, who didn't like the second album nearly as much as they had the first. Other problems cropped up over the ensuing year, including more personnel changes and Bill Chase being driven into personal bankruptcy. He kept teaching and performing, but the band ceased to exist for several months.

In late 1972, Bill Chase re-formed the group with a new lineup, and during the following year he went through numerous personnel under the Chase name, trying to come up with a new band sound that would work musically for him and that the public would accept. A third Chase album, Pure Music, was forthcoming in 1973 with a new lineup. But the promise and excitement in the press for the 1971 album had dissipated by now, and the new LP received a lukewarm reception, though the band was getting enough gigs to work steadily.

On August 9, 1974, Chase were traveling by plane to Minnesota for a performance at the Jackson County Fair when they flew into bad weather -- in the ensuing crash, Bill Chase, along with bandmembers Wally Yohn, John Emma, and Walter Clark, were killed with their two pilots. The tragedy generated shock waves throughout the jazz community, although in the world of popular music, which was becoming dominated by arena rock acts and beginning its embrace of disco, as well as encountering the noise of the punk rock sideshow, Chase were soon forgotten by listeners without long memories. A tribute album entitled Watch Closely Now, by surviving band alumni and longtime associates of Bill Chase, was recorded in 1977. In the late '90s all three Chase albums were reissued on CD on the Collectables label. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Comments

I was blown away when I heard the first album! God rest you and your great musical brothers.
intrinsic.d
BEST BAND THAT NEVER CAME TO FULL POWER.
Gone too soon
My dad was gonna play with these guys in laramie wyoming but two weeks before they crashed and died
dpickettcpa
Ever notice...??? 1st track on 1st album was Open Up Wide...last track on last album was Close Up Tight...did he know something? spooky
Beyond compare
tenantrep
I too had the great fortune to see Bill and his band in 1970 at a small hotel venue in Baton Rouge. A HS senior at the time in what we thought was a pretty cool jazz band, our entire section was blown away by Chase as that section of talented trumpets; never to be repeated. Bill played my HS band director in Woody's bands and we were well received and remember Bill as being very personable. Was truly a sad day just 4 years later to lose him way too soon. Don Ellis died too soon too. RIP
intrinsic.d
My jazz band instructor turned me onto Chase when I was in high school in the 90s. I must admit, I have never heard such rocken trumpets in any other band.
I played trumpet myself, and all trumpet players before and after Bill Chase have yet to excite the senses as Bill Chase did.
As a trumpet player msyself, I was a huge Maynard fan and student of all he did - his playing shaped mine, but when I heard Bill Chase for the first time I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! Such power- I sware the man could have blown through the horn and ripped the bell wide open!!! Since Bill, I've not heard a trumpet player who had such power, control, and finese -- when the end comes, Bill Chase will be blowing down the lead chart with a power that was only his!
I've had a fairly successful trumpet playing career and Bill Chase was one of my biggest influences.. .
As high school jazz band trumpeters my older brother and I loved the hard driving horns with Chase, BST and Maynard. My question is where is the trumpet found today? You got Marsalis on classical, Botti on soft/showtun e s , Rick Braun on smooth jazz, and.......?? ? ?
Is it too hard to establish oneself as a trumpeter in the music scene today? Seems like there's hundreds of sax players making their sound heard. Has the trumpet become too hard to play well at that level?
The time was right - the concept was dead on. I often wonder what he'd be doing now - you know he had the chops to make it last, but I assume he would have changed direction from the jazz-rock at some time. Saw him at two concerts - the warm-ups would of course, blow you away, before they even hit the stage. From then on, it was non stop burn! The music industry lost a great visionary in 74.
The band was killed in a plane crash during my sophomore year at Kansas University. As a trumpet player this news left a hole in my heart that hasn't yet healed completely.
anthonysaint a m a n t
This is the only band l cried upon reading that Sunday Newspaper. I fondly recall the Sunday night Live show on CBS!!
Great music and talent from Bill Chase and his band that will never die. Can you imagine what they would have accomplished if not for their aircraft problems? I have owned all their album on 8 track, cassette, and now digital mp3's. Wow, I love this stuff. I was in high school stage band during 1971 to 1975 and we would listen to the albums(LP's) in class. Good times!!
skitractor
Brought "Open up wide" to band class in 1977 as my contribution song ,blew the instructor away.Playing the horn is tough and he was loved by all players who heard him.
wow
This stuff never goes out of style
hekkl5
Chase, TOP, EWF, BST......How could anyone with a discerning ear go wrong? If you were around in the 70's and enjoyed listening to ear-splittin g , high note, blood-and-gu t s , in-your-face trumpet playing, you couldn't go wrong with any of these choices. They are all AWESOME. One other name I might mention is Arturo Sandoval. He, along with Wayne Bergeron and the likes still kick a**!! By the way, I am a low brass (trombone) player who wishes I would have done it differently back then!
fantastic! love horns with rock, sends chills up my neck when they do that pulsating blast. though i think blood sweat and tears was the best at it, chase pulls it off too. anything else is almost disco.
Chase - just phenomenal. My trumpet teacher turned me on to them in the 7th grade. Some youtubes out there for those of us who never had the pleasure of seeing them live.
Chase was one of a kind. Making Trumpet a lead in a rock vein. I was fortunate enough to see Chase at Orange HS gym Greater Cleveland.
Our HS jazz band played the hell out of Chase.
toneill282
As a college student in Central New York I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill along with his group. They were on tour helping college and high school bands, then providing a concert after. Just an incredible guy. As far as interviews go, night and day between Maynard Ferguson and Bill Chase.
Chase was the first album I ever owned. As a budding trumpeter, it blew my mind and I became a lifelong fan. Things came around full circle when I bought a trumpet last year for my 7th grade son from Jay Sollenberger , who played on the Pure Music album. He is a wonderful guy and a great player. We also met Jim Oates (Pure Music) last summer at the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival here in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Great guy. Chase lives on.
john6_65kjv
The epitome of fusion-jazz talent... There are none who can equal this band's creations. It is so nice to hear it again after throwing out my 8-tracks years ago.
datadiver08
Chase played in La Crosse Wisconsin in 1970 or 1971. I was in our high school jazz band playing trumpet. Our entire jazz band went and were treated to the most memorable concert of my life. What a talent!!!!!! ! ! !
dleder
I have the pleasure of meeting bill chase as he walked off the beach before his bands appearance in Margate, NJ at "Gables". I was underage and stood outside and talked with him during a break...he will always be one of the best!
bryantoy
Good Lord, can you imagine having chops like this? I bet after the plane burned to a cinder his lips were still there. Man could this guy wail!
This band jazz/rock band kicked better horn than B.S.T. and Chicago. The band had only three albums - it's all here. Bill Chase died in an airplane crash in the mid 7o's. Thanxs for the talent Bill.
jpr
he could do no wrong!! any chance the rest of the catalog could be available?

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