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The Life Of Bill Chase

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2002 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the forum readers probably know most of this but for those that don't, I thought I'd pass it along. I was lucky enough to see Bill Chase back in 1972. A show I'll never forget. The article mentions a few things about his approach to playing that are interesting.

Bill Chase
October 20, 1934 - August 9, 1974

Written by Kevin Seeley

William Edward Chiaiese was born on October 20, 1934 to John and Emily Chiaiese(key-ah-tze) in Squantum, Massachusetts. John changed the family name to Chase, understanding that the Italian name Chiaiese was both hard to spell and pronounce.

While Bill was growing up his parents felt that he needed to broaden his horizons and arranged for him to take violin lessons. Bill did not even touch the trumpet, until the middle of his high school years. A newspaper clipping dated 1956 pictures Bill listed as a Corporal in the 26th Yankee Infantry Division Band holding a bass drum. Bill's experience as a drummer changed his life and the lives of many others. During the St. Patrick's Day parade he had to lug his huge drum for five miles during the miserably cold pouring rain. It hurt so bad that he decided never to do it again, he wanted his father to dig out his old trumpet for him.

He started playing his fathers old trumpet the summer before his junior year in high school and showed a natural aptitude for it. He soon joined a Drum and Bugle Corps, along with his school groups. This, was prior to his stint in the Boston National Guard where he said he wrote music and played trumpet in 1957. He served for six months in the guard band, which honed his talents as a trumpeter and arranger.

Not long after switching to trumpet, Bill was playing first chair in the school orchestra and classical music was his main love. Early 1950's a neighbor coaxed Bill to attend a Stan Kenton concert with him. This was the band with Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Childers, Conte Condoli, etc. After that night, Bill was hooked on jazz and high note trumpet.

As you can tell, this time period in Bills life is hard to decipher. Bill was doing so much playing, and he became very good so quickly, that the dates are very confusing. Since Maynard left the Kenton band and headed to Hollywood in 1953, Bill must have seen Kenton before then. I can only assume that he switched to the trumpet around 1951 at about the age of 16.

Bill went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston and studied with renowned trombonist and teacher John Coffey. Armando Ghitalla was his primary teacher as far as his classical approach to trumpet at Berklee. Bill played in the big band that was directed by trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, whom Bill credits with helping him develop as a lead trumpet player and stylist. He gradually gained a reputation around Boston with his work in the local dance bands. In 1957 the Berklee Band recorded the first Berklee "Jazz in the Classroom" album with Bill on the lead book. Half of this album is very "intellectual" jazz and half is more straight ahead swing. Bill's lead work drives the band, just as it did years later with Woody Herman. There were many young musicians in this band who later went on to the professional scene. Paul Fontaine, Jimmy Mosher, Hal Galper and Toshiko Akiyoshi were just a few.

Things are more confusing at this point. Woody Herman hired Bill after the Herd played a gig with Pomeroy's band in a park in Boston. Woody liked what he heard and hired Bill and several other players for his own band. However, I also have information showing that Bill's first big gig at the age of 19, was a brief stint with Maynard Ferguson in 1957, to replace the ailing Chet Feretti, which was interrupted by six months of military service. He may have gone with Maynard for a brief time, then returned to Boston after the military, then out with Woody's small group and so on. He returned to Maynard in 1958 to record a couple of albums as lead trumpet. Throughout his entire stay at Berklee, he was constantly taking time off from school to make enough money playing to return.

After a total of 18 months with Maynard, Bill joined Woody to work with his sextet and vaudeville show. This was when Woody had financial problems and the big band was too expensive to keep. Bill joined Stan Kenton in September of 1959 mainly as a lead player, but I have a picture of him and his tilted bell horn playing the third book. He recorded a couple of albums, but ended up getting fired by Stan due to remarks he made about the trumpet section which also contained Bud Brisbois and his unwillingness to switch to a straight Bb trumpet. Things are confusing again with the new release of a live Kenton concert from January 30, 1960 which has Bill listed in the section.
Throughout his entire career Bill was extremely dedicated to his practicing. He had the habit of buzzing his mouthpiece for 30 to 45 minutes after each show, whether it was a two hour concert or a five hour dance gig. In the back of the Kenton bus Bill would drive people crazy with this particular habit. This was, of course, when he wasn't driving his sports car from show to show.
Bill's first real taste of fame came when he took over the lead book in Woody's Herd. Bill's rock solid lead work and fierce solo efforts helped the band swing it's ass off. Bill became a featured soloist with the band, not only on high note finishes, but on beautiful ballads as well. Songs such as "Somewhere," "I Can't Get Started," "Summertime" and others showed the sweet side of his horn.

Bill also began to write and arrange for the band. Many of his tunes were recorded by the band in the 60's. "Mo-Lasses," "Somewhere," "Taste of Honey," "Y'Know What I Mean," "El Toro Grande," "23 Red" and "Camel Walk" which made it into the 1964 Downbeat yearbook as a featured score.
In 1959, saxophonist Don Lanphere and his wife Midge were traveling companions with Bill and his wife. They would drive from town to town following the band to the gigs. On the way to the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, Don and Midge played jokes on their companions and began to make up many incredible stories about famous sites and events. Bill was an avid photographer and wanted to take pictures of all of the places. This was his first visit to the West Coast he did not know the truth. Bill didn't find out that they were joking until several years later.

Another amusing story took place at a hotel in Galveston, Texas. After the show, the band was hanging out around the pool drinking and relaxing, when Bill put on his swimsuit grabbed his horn, dove to the bottom of the pool and started to play "I Can't Get Started." Don remembers bubbles coming to the surface, and even a faint trace of the melody.

The Herd, in it's prime during the early sixties was given ample time to perform for a national audience. The band was a guest on the Ed Sullivan show each year from 1963 to 1965. These performances coupled with two featured spots on the PBS Jazz Casuals shows, brought the band to the attention of music lovers all across the United States. A European show called Jazz 625, was also filmed during this time period. The playing on the Casuals and the 625 shows is outstanding. Bill is playing the lead book and is featured on several numbers including a few of his arrangements.

The Casuals shows were sort of dry in nature due to the fact that not even a studio audience was provided. In addition the host of the show was narrated by the rather dry jazz writer Ralph Gleason. The first show featured Bill soloing on his own composition of "Mo-Lasses," and his outstanding vehicle for tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, "El Toro Grande," which seem to be the best numbers. Trombonist Phil Wilson is also featured, whistling his way through the trombone's upper register with ease.

The second show is also very good, featuring Bill on his arrangement of "A Taste Of Honey." A brief solo spot on "Satin Doll" is also in this episode. However the lead playing is what makes the shows so great. Bill pushes the band as far as he can considering the energy level is so low because of the lack of a crowd. Gleason, although a well respected jazz critic, is useless in the shows. He asks such questions as, "Woody are big bands coming back?" This was in 1963. What a tough question in a time that gave us some of the better big band albums, not only by the Herd but by other bands as well.

Critics were astounded by the power of the Herd in the 1960's, each album they recorded received more praise then the previous one. "Many critics have attributed much of the band's spark and drive to Chase's forceful lead work (the trumpeter plays what he calls the "screech" parts and often solos, but it is his lead work that has been most often cited)."
The concert reviews from the current band were better than ever. "The trumpets with some new faces on hand, had their customary bite and sparkle, paced by Chase's remarkable lead work. Chase has some exciting solo bits, mostly in high note climaxes, but also in a more melodic vein, as on "Everybody Loves Somebody."

"The trumpet section led by the fiery Bill Chase is a killer. Chase a dark and handsome 28 year old is a superb trumpeter. Musicians are astonished by his chops. His range is literally the same as Maynard's, and he is playing lead an octave over the others much of the time. When he's not doing that he's playing straight lead. The rest of the time he plays solos-sensitive and extremely musicianly solos."

The Woody's Winners album in 1965 is probably the best, as far as Bill's playing goes. "The best writing is Chase's 23 Red, a wild, boppish up tempo arrangement in the first Herd tradition. Chase does a terrific job in the section. He's one of the stronger lead trumpeters around now and maybe one of the best in history." All of this from a Downbeat critic, usually one of the tougher magazines to get a good big band review.

Bill was always in command of the Herman trumpet section with his playing and even sometimes the whole band. "There are things I made Woody's band do that I accomplished without saying a word. Just by taking one note and placing it in a certain position, maybe an infinitesimal fraction of a beat further each night , with the objective in mind that eventually it would get to the point where I thought it should be. And the guys would follow those subtle changes without even knowing that they were doing it. That's a groovy satisfaction." Bill was called on many times to be the sparkplug of an exhausted band. "And there were times when I knew I'd simply have to turn on the whole band, like after an all-day bus ride when everyone was totally beat...So I would turn it on so damned hard that at the end of the night I'd be completely spent. I wouldn't have one note left. Because no matter how tired or swollen your chops might be, when a key highnote passage comes up, you pace yourself and you play it. A major part of it is mental. If you say, 'There's no way I can make it tonight,' then you will not make it. But when it has to roar and you're the lead player, you can't say that. Because you have to make it!"

In 1966 while on a tour for the state department, Nat Pierce had this to say: "We were playing a reception for the second vice president of Tanzania, and I had to write out the Tanzanian national anthem for the band. I thought I'd doctor it up a little and put some flashy things in for Bill Chase to play. We were rehearsing it in the room in which we were to play while workers were up on step ladders decorating the place with crepe paper and banners. When we started to play it and Bill started playing the flashy stuff, the workers started coming down off the ladders and coming towards the band. I said 'uh-oh, we'd better leave out that Bill Chase Part'."

Trumpeter Bill Byrne credits Bill for keeping him on the band (Byrne remained with the band until it folded after Woody died) "Bill Chase was the main reason that I got to stay on the band. He saw me working hard on the parts and let me stay on the band." Bill later became the band manager and tour director among other capacities he held with the band. "Bill Chase was a great cook and took wonderful films of our Herman Africa trip in 1966."

In 1966, Bill left Woody and landed in Las Vegas to work the hotel show circuit. He started working primarily at the Dunes hotel playing the Viva Les Girls show. He also played in the Tommy Vig Orchestra, but did not record with them. Bill briefly worked as a studio player, but there wasn't enough work for him, so he just stuck with the show circuit.

Melody Maker magazine quoted Bill on his desire to improve as a jazz soloist in a 1966 article, "I like all the usual jazz soloists, like Clark Terry, Clifford Brown, Dizzy and don't forget Harry Edison. But I would like to fashion my style on Clark. It's more and more difficult to be original these days. I'm certainly not original, so it's a matter of getting the right influences."

Several sources say that Bill appeared on the Ed Sullivan show as a featured soloist in 1968 when Sullivan was filming in Vegas. In an all too brief two minute spot Bill played his high note feature as scantily clad chorus line girls danced all about. No one remembers exactly what was played, but one source thought it was the "Carnival of Venice" up an octave. Throughout his stint in Vegas, Bill continued to do occasional tours with Woody even up until 1970. Several of these concerts have recently been issued on compact disc.

In Vegas, Bill's reputation as a fearless lead player landed him many quality gigs. However he became bored of life in the clubs. He once mentioned that he used to play cards and read comics with one hand as he played the show with the other. Bill also spent time as Vic Damone's lead player. When big shows came to Vegas needing an extra trumpet player, Bill was the trumpeter that each artist would call on. When Johnny Carson would come to town, Doc Severinsen would call Bill to play in the band.

Trumpeter Byron Lingenfelter met Bill in 1964 when he joined Woody's band to replace Larry Ford. Byron was only on the band for three weeks when he received his draft notice. After the service Byron settled in Vegas and played the Viva Les Girls show with Bill.

Bill became so bored with playing the same show that he began to look for a new way to express himself. Byron, ex-Herman trumpeter Gerry Lamy and several other musician buddies convinced Bill to start his own group. Late in 1969, the band began to rehearse in a large vacant warehouse after they had finished their jobs. Usually rehearsals would run from 2:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. The band originally learned tunes off the radio, such as "Vehicle," "With a Little Help from My Friends," "Celebrate" and others. Finally with enough cover tunes learned they auditioned at the Pussycat-A-Go-Go. They signed on as an after hours music group. They would play five one hour sets. The band gradually formed a local following and slowly added in some original tunes.

The first gig at the Pussycat was originally booked as a two week job, however it soon stretched into two and a half months. This was in the summer of 1970. Bill felt that he needed to shop his product around a little, so he got some help from Woody and friend Tommy Martin in finding some record executives who would listen. Frank Rand was one of the first people to really feel that the group would have a future and he enthusiastically added his support and background to getting the band with Epic records.

Bill Byrne commented some on this time period too. "The Woody Herman band used to go to the Pussycat in Las Vegas and listen to Bill break in the new group till 8 am every morning. Woody would be out on the dance floor having a ball to Bill's music. Woody was one of the people who really pushed Bill to start his own group."

Bill flew to Boston to play a show with Woody and over dinner he talked to his buddy, trumpeter Lin Biviano who was then playing with the Glenn Miller Band, about the band. Soon after this meeting, Bill called Lin at his home in Pennsylvania, asking him to fly to Vegas that day to play on his demo. The next day Lin arrived in Vegas and went to Bill's apartment at the Tropicana hotel and found Bill fiddling with his electric keyboard writing what would soon become his most popular song. "Get It On" was originally written without a vocal part. The band recorded a 6-12 song demo in Byron's living room with record executives from Epic present including producer Frank Rand. Dennis Johnson, who joined the band after six weeks remembered recording a great tune called "Pensive Passion" which was in 7/4 time on the demo.

The band at this time was made up of Bill, Byron, Jerry and Lin on trumpets. The rhythm section was comprised of John Palmer on guitar, Jay Burrid on drums, Dennis Johnson on bass and Phil Porter on keys.

Trumpeter Alan Ware came in to replace Byron who decided he wanted to keep his steady hotel playing job. Alan was working in the lounge act in the same hotel where Bill was playing. They became friends in their off hours and naturally when Bill needed another player, Alan came to mind. Alan became the band's road manager. He was also the only band member with good credit. He bought a car for the band to travel in. This was a major commitment, as sometimes they had to scrape by on only $75 a week.

After about two months of rehearsals, Guitarist Angel South joined the band bringing a heavy background in blues, and rock music. Angel soon became one of the most inventive and talented guitarists on the scene. Later when the band started to tour, Bill would rely on Angel's soloing to bring the crowd to it's feet.

When the band decided to go out on the road, several members chose to stay in Vegas, hoping that a gig in a club would be more steady than the life on the road with Bill's fledgling band. Byron left the band early in 1971 to stay with his wife and newborn son. Lin was offered the lead chair in Buddy Rich's band. Gerry also wanted to stay with his steady job in town.

With replacements needed, Bill went to the band for help. Jay Burrid had been in the Navy with trumpeter Jerry Van Blair stationed in San Francisco. Jay moved to Vegas to try and make some money, while Jerry stayed in San Francisco for the same reason. When a spot in the trumpet section opened, Jay recommended Jerry for the chair. He filled it better then anyone could have hoped. Young trumpeter Ted Piercefield was also a highly talented arranger and vocalist and was recruited to fill Gerry Lamy's spot.

Epic records saw a future in the band and had the band move to Chicago to record what would soon become their most popular album. The band was booked into "Mothers," a club in Chicago, playing from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. After the gig was over they would pack up and move all of their gear to Universal Studios for the recording session that afternoon. The band had rented some apartments nearby, so they were able to eat and get some rest before the call at the studio.
After the early afternoon session they would move all the gear back into the club for the show that night. This process was repeated for more than a week. In nine days they figured that they had the album completed. After compiling the total time of the album, Bill realized that it was about six minutes short. He sent Ted and Alan into a practice room to arrange something. In very little time, they had an arrangement of Rod Stewart's "Handbags and Gladrags" finished. Bill loved it and it was recorded that same afternoon.

The album proved to be a huge success as "Get It On" became a number one pop hit in the summer of 1971. The band was nominated for a Grammy award. Bill was voted as the number two pop musician of the year, runner up to Carly Simon. The group also placed second in the Rock/Pop/Blues group category and the album was the number one pop album of the year, according to Downbeat Magazine.

The band's fame soon spread and national television spots followed. Performances on the Smothers Brothers and Tonight Shows brought their music to more people. The Smothers show was taped in the studio with no audience. In between numbers the camera was filming the band as Bill's voice over talked "people ask me why the name CHASE, well, that's my name too…" The band played "Open Up Wide" and "Get It On" on both shows. On the Tonight Show the audience went crazy, prompting Johnny Carson to quip "Fine group, just fine, but there are nine fellows who will not be invited to Lawrence Welk's birthday party." That evening the band played at the Los Angeles club the Whiskey A-Go-Go and put on a spectacular show in front of a packed house, including Doc Severinsen, Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson.

Riding the crest of the first album's success the band was booked into George Wein's Newport Jazz Festival. The show went over extremely well, but the festival had it's problems when riots broke out during the following group's performance. Angel remembers rioters tearing the place apart and even hurling the grand piano off of the stage. All of the bands ran for their lives. This was the event that caused the moving of the festival to Carnegie Hall for several years.

Throughout 1971 the band maintained a vigorous touring schedule. The band was a supercharged bunch of musicians on stage and after each show they were totally exhausted, having given their all. Usually the shows went off without a hitch, however there were a few occasions when something did go wrong. During one show the drum beat got changed around, nothing like this had ever happened before. Everyone was so amazed that something went wrong that they all broke into laughter. The music stopped and the band took several minutes before they regained enough composure to start the tune over.

In order to ensure a great crowd response for "Get It On," Bill would typically have Angel play a 10 to 15 minute solo displaying his guitar skills. Angel was a forerunner in the use of guitar effects, that are used so much today. At a show in Indiana something happened that still brings a smile to Angel's face. Bill had flown to Chicago for an interview and was due back an hour before the show. Angel had a habit of sipping a glass of wine before each show. On this particular night he went through his warm up routine and then started on his glass of wine. Showtime rolled around and Bill was still not there. Angel had another glass. Bill arrived one and a half hours late, by then Angel had finished his bottle. The show was going well, even though Angel had much more wine than he was used to. When it came time for his solo the alcohol finally hit him. Angel played on and on for almost forty five minutes. He only stopped because he finally noticed Bill frantically waving his arms for him to signal "Get It On."

Each member of the band received many of opportunities to be featured. Piercefield and Van Blair sang a couple of numbers. Ware and Piercefield helped in arranging some tunes. Van Blair was provided ample space to showcase his fantastic Clifford Brown-like flugelhorn work. His playing on "God Bless the Child" was beautiful.

Audiences and critics alike loved the band. One critic could not get enough. "In thirty seconds Chase took in an audience and brought them to their feet standing and cheering. It is impossible not to be affected by the musical power that nine men called Chase put out. Bill Chase began the evening soloing somewhere around double-high C, and it was impossible not to think back to the showmanship of Maynard Ferguson. And later when all four trumpets started taking one bar solos off each other and building with each one, the other three brass players proved to be almost an even match for Chase's skill and artistry. Chase is quite possibly the most perfect blending of musical elements and musicians to ever hit the rock pop music scene."

Some concerts would begin with total darkness over the stage. Bill would start his solo introduction to "Open Up Wide" as the spotlight focused in on him. When the rest of the trumpets joined in, the lights spread to engulf the whole section. The whole show was well produced and had audiences raving about the band. "In less than thirty seconds Chase took in an audience which had already been dulled into a state of soporific boredom by two hours of mediocre (or worse) music and had many of them standing on their feet cheering. It is impossible not to be affected by the musical power that nine men called Chase put out."

Later one critic described the band as, "A group that has four trumpets all milked up to an acid, heavy rhythm sound with an organ. It's a gas. You walk right in and get pinned right up against the wall with the sound."

WBBM-TV in Chicago, a CBS affiliate, produced a weekly half-hour show called "Repertoire Workshop," a program for the arts sponsored by RC Cola. Usually the show featured dancers or dramatic acting performances. Since Chase was based in Chicago and attached to CBS they ended up on one of the shows. Unfortunately the show was only broadcast in Chicago and on a couple of other affiliate stations. The performance was top notch. "Woman of the Dark" featured all of the trumpet players. "Listen to Her Sing" was a beautiful ballad written by Joe Ambrosia and sung by Terry Richards, also featuring some exceptional section work by Bill and the trumpets. An appreciative studio audience helped the band play at their finest.

January of 1972 found the band touring South Africa and soon after, Japan. While in the South Africa, the band visited several villages and since the trumpeters never went anywhere without their horns they played several songs while the locals played their drums. In April of 1972, when touring Japan the band received a welcome that marked them as royalty. As they departed the plane they saw a huge crowd and a large banner with the Chase logo waiting for them. The band had five singles in the top ten in Japan. Sold out concerts in Nagoya, Osaka and at the Boudakon, the largest concert hall in Tokyo followed on this tour. The Boudakan show,. Sponsored by Mobil Oil was televised across Japan. The concert hall was packed with thousands of Chase fans. Tours to Italy and Europe followed to promote their album.

For the second album, "Ennea," the band traveled to San Francisco. Most of the music was actually written in the studio. Bill was continually changing the music. After a few tunes had been recorded even the personnel had a couple of changes. Gary Smith replaced Jay Burrid on drums and G.G. Shinn replaced Terry Richards on vocals. Shinn's vocal virtuosity and his ability to play the trumpet when needed, allowed for a fourth trumpet player when either Piercefield or Van Blair sang.

This recording session proved to be a very exciting album for trumpet players and music lovers alike. However the critics disliked it and sales did not reach the success of the first album. Containing an entire side dedicated to Greek Mythology, this album was quite a step for Bill's writing talents. "Cronus" had been an instrumental version since the early days of the band, Erin Adair added lyrics to the song and to the rest of the Ennea Suite. "Woman of the Dark," a tune that had been in the bands books since early in 1971 proved to be one of the jazzier songs the band recorded as far as free blowing goes. In the solo section Chase and Van Blair each play a chorus, then trading fours on out were Chase, Piercefield, Ware and Van Blair. The ending turned out exceptional, considering they had only outlined the idea beforehand. According to Chase's attorney Alex Devience, the album took about three weeks and either cost $130 thousand (which was a lot of money for an album) or was $130 thousand dollars over budget, he couldn't remember exactly which.

In concert the band was always full of energy. The band members had fun on stage. Dennis made a habit of going to Phil at the keyboards to tune his bass before the song "River." He realized that Bill was listening to him and using it to find the pitch he was supposed come in on. One night Dennis asked for a tuning note a half step off on purpose. Bill played his entrance and then realized he had been tricked.

Drummer Gary Smith was only 20 or 21 years old when he joined the band. He was a good friend of Dennis Johnson who helped to get him on the band. Gary remembers how hard the shows were to play. At the end of each tune Bill was always going for that highest note. Gary had to play drum fills all the way to the cut off. He would become exhausted, even with all of his youthful exuberance.

Always willing to help students, Bill worked as a clinician at the Elon College Jazz Workshop in North Carolina in 1972. In 1974, Bill toured with Ron Modell's Northern Illinois University Jazz Band for a week. Performing big band arrangements of tunes such as "Get It On," "MacArthur Park," and "Bochawa."

The band again toured South Africa in 1972 achieving great success. Bill was also musically inspired and wrote "Bochawa" on the tour. It originally featured Van Blair (Bo), Chase (Cha), and Wally Yohn (Wa). Although never recorded on an album by the second band, it became a big hit when played live mainly by the third band. The extended solo section on the album allowed Jay Sollenberger to trade solos with Bill. After their return from South Africa, the band went into Universal Studios in Chicago, and recorded several tunes for the next album, including "Dead," "Love," "Frustration," "Close Up Tight," and "Twinkles." These recordings went unreleased until February of 1997, because the band broke up soon after the session.

In mid 1972 the band went on hiatus for a time due to a rash of problems, culminating with Bill declaring bankruptcy. His dream did not die, he soon reformed with an exceptional line-up of talent. Jay Sollenberger, Jim Oatts (who incidentally saw Bill playing with Woody in 1963, when he was 14, convincing him to drive towards a future on the trumpet) and Joe Morissey formed the trumpet section for the longest period in 73-74, however there was a lot of changing personnel during this reformation process. Carl Haefili, Van Blair, Rick Gardner and Byron Langenfelter floated in and out of the trumpet section. Lynn Nicholson was on the band only briefly and Bill's long time buddy Lin Biviano often subbed for the band, as did Alan Ware.

In 1972, Bill attended the National Trumpet Symposium in Denver as an observer. Since he was a prominent trumpet player he was asked to participate in the panel discussions. He enjoyed the symposium so much that in 1973 he returned as a lecturer and with the Chase band as performers. Unknown to most trumpet players, a young Lynn Nicholson was in the band at that time. His tenure in the band was very brief, due to a conflict of ego's with Bill. Jay and Jim's buddy Joe Morissey was originally supposed to fill the chair. While in Denver, Bill also played with several high school bands, and sat in with the Denver Broncos pep band.

During this break Bill rented a condo in Florida or New York for a place to practice at. Rumor has it, that he was evicted after several weeks because he continually practiced long tones for hours. Other band members also had some great experiences during this break up. Ted, Gary and Dennis went to Florida and started their own band, "X." They received a record deal from Epic, but changed their minds when Bill wanted them back in Chicago to help him reform the band.
Angel South formed "Cottonwood South," and also had a record deal with Epic, which resulted in one album. One tune on his album had originally been written for Chase and another had been written by Dennis and Ted for their band.

1973 saw a newly reformed band and Bill looking for a different sound. At the beginning of the tour the band carried a vibraphonist and a trombonist who doubled on flute. This did not last long as Bill returned to his trademark sound. Bill had also learned that by adding a few more tunes on flugelhorn, he could add some new color to the music. Bill's playing was stronger then ever.
On Bill's birthday in 1973 the band had a show. They had been on the road for three days straight with little or no sleep. On the way to the gig Bill ruined his Corvette, his bad luck wasn't over. During the show he knocked his horn into the orchestra pit. Luckily, Schilke fixed it for him easily. The horn had been designed originally for Bill. It was said to be one of the first Schilke tuneable bell trumpet.

The band went back to Chicago to record their third album for Epic. Originally a ballad by Jim Peterik was slated to be the title track, however the record executives thought it wasn't hit material. They scratched it off of the album but kept the title, "Pure Music." Bill had to write another tune. He took some time and then came up with "Love is on the Way" with the help of Jim. The album was finished. Engineer Murray Allen remembers the recording session and Bill very clearly. He mentioned that Bill had a habit of brushing his teeth every hour. Who says that musicians don't have good personal hygiene?

Bill let the band go on vacation while he stayed in town to listen to the playbacks. While listening to "Close Up Tight," Bill had an idea for some flugelhorn parts. Jay was at the studio with his horn, so Bill asked him to help add the parts. Bill wrote out the parts in 15 minutes and within the hour they were dubbed onto the tune. If you listen closely you can hear them.

When the album was released, the band held several release parties. New York, Boston and Chicago were the locations. At Faces, a club in Chicago, a Japanese contingent presented a slide show with a narrated history of the group. Also a short video of Bill talking about his new music was shown. The concert itself featured all of the new tunes, with Jim Peterik sitting in on vocals. The show was relayed by television around the club so everyone could see the band, they definitely didn't have a problem hearing the band. This was video taped and copied for several record executives and other music industry people.

This band proved to be one of the most exciting to listen to. Many of the numbers had expanded solo sections, and the only vocalist in the band was bass player Dartanyan Brown. He liked singing, but didn't have the capabilities of Richards and Shinn. Solo spots were added to "Get It On," showcasing all of the trumpets, "2001" and other tunes were now trumpet free for all's.
In 1973, Dartanyan was given a deal by Gibson, to promote it's new model, the Gibson "Ripper" bass guitar. He was to record a tune on a demo to showcase the new improved features of the bass. He invited Bill to come and join him on the session. He wrote the rhythm parts and Bill added the trumpet parts. Bill overdubbed all of the parts himself, adding some tight punches and licks to a great little tune. Bill enjoyed Dart's writing style so much that he asked him to do some more writing for the band.

Original band member Byron Lingenfelter returned to the band in March of 1974 replacing Morissey. He was the only band member to be on the band at both the beginning and the end but never record anything on the three albums.

In 1974 work had been started on a fourth album between gigs on the road. The band would fly to Chicago and lay some tracks down and then hit the road for a few shows. "Ode to a New England Jellyfish," was nearly completed. Bill's flugel solo was all that was needed, but it was never finished.

Nelson Hatt became friends with Bill early in the 1970's and later Bill got Nelson into Woody's trumpet section. Nelson an avid photographer, like Bill, had taken several pictures of the band in concert that were to be used on the fourth album cover. Bill wanted to give him something for the pictures, but he wouldn't take any money, so Bill slipped him a couple of his mouthpieces. In 1977 Nelson played on one tune on the tribute album as did Allen Vizzutti. The cut they played on was "Superman," featuring Walt Johnson. A track that later had a disco re-mix made.

In August of 1974, the band played a week long stint in Texas, followed by a scheduled appearance at the Jackson County Fair in Minnesota. On the way to the fair in Jackson, Minnesota, Bill's plane went down in a heavy rain storm. Bill, Wally Yohn, John Emma, and Walter Clark, as well as the band's pilot and co-pilot were killed. Conflicting reports say that they were between 75 yards and three miles of the airstrip. Several lawsuits were filed by family members and won. Ultimately, officials stated that pilot error was the cause of the accident. August 9, 1974, marked the end of a remarkable trumpet player. Bill Chase was only 39 years old and at the height of his playing. Bill was laid to rest in his hometown of Squantum, Ma.

The rest of the band was waiting for Bill at the fair. When they received the news of the crash, the equipment truck left and headed for Chicago carrying the Yamaha flugels, their sponsor, as well as the rest of the equipment. Much of the gear disappeared and nobody is really sure where it went.
Bill's sudden death left a void in the music industry. He had many friends and admirers throughout the world. In his honor Reonald Schilke and Charles Colin set up a memorial scholarship fund for the NY Brass conference in 1975. Angel South's album was dedicated to Bill. Woody's "Road Father" album was dedicated to Bill. The title for that album was the nickname that Bill's parents had given Woody during the 60's. Former Chase trumpeter Jay Sollenberger played on the album.
Trumpeter Roy Roman, became a friend of Bill's in the 1960's as a young musician. Later in 1973 Roman had written some charts for the band. Roman went into the studio to record the charts so Bill could hear them and then make any changes he thought necessary. Bill never got a chance to listen.

Maynard Ferguson, a man that Bill was often compared to, had kind words for Bill also. "Bill Chase was one of my closest friends in my own band somewhere in the 1960's (1958 to be exact). We used to go out to dinner together, hang together and that sort of thing. He was a great lead player in my band. He didn't play very many solos in my band. When you have a great lead player you tend to keep him just on lead and I guess I unconsciously did that to Bill. On the other hand, maybe he hadn't developed his solo chops then... because when I heard him later on with Woody Herman he just sounded absolutely marvelous."

Bill got Bobby Shew onto Woody's band when a spot opened up. Bobby also played with Bill in Las Vegas and went to the first Chase rehearsal, but it was far too loud for Bobby's taste. Bobby credits Bill as the person who really got the trumpet sections standing up in the big bands. "His ego was so big, he always wanted to be seen by all of the ladies. He would sometimes stand a foot in front of everyone so that he could be seen better. He would be doing poses and all sorts of flamboyant moves so the ladies and photographers would notice him. He carried a set of weights and a personal tanning lamp with him so he could use them when we were in a town for a couple of days. Those dumbbells would be rolling around over my head when I was trying to sleep. If Bill were on the bus instead of riding in Woody's Corvette I might have slugged him. We called him the Omar Sharif of the trumpet. He was the pretty boy that liked to pose for the cameras."

Later in Vegas, Bobby was around Bill again. When Bill was playing the Viva Les Girls lounge act, Bobby would come to see him play. Bill had talked the musical director into adding a jungle number to feature his playing. Bill wanted to show off. "Bill would come out wearing a loincloth, orange and green feathers around his ankles and wrists, a lions-tooth necklace and an ugly hat filled with green and orange feathers. Bill was a big guy, so he was showing off his body to the ladies and his high notes to everyone. I would kill to get a video of that, probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen."

One trait about Bill that many of his close friends knew was his penchant for good food. Said to be a gourmet chef himself, Bill would continually search out good restaurants for pre-concert meals. Usually a large steak would do. Alan Ware remembers being in a small town in the Mid-West with the band and everyone was hungry. Bill took the lead and led everyone well out of town and down a dirt road, to a cafe. Bill had eaten there many years earlier with Woody's band. He had a good memory for hot spots to find good food.

Over the years the band had performed with a variety of other top groups. Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters," Sly and the Family Stone, B.B. King, The Allman Bros., the Temptations, Maynard Ferguson and other bands.

Music magazines all around the world presented tributes and stories on Bill. Allen Scott had previously devoted a whole chapter to Bill in his book, "Jazz Educated Man" in 1973. Scott's article in Sabin's Radio Free Jazz, proved to be one of the best tribute articles written about Bill.
Three years later, in 1977 a tribute album "Watch Closely Now" was recorded, using mainly alumni of the first band and featuring Walt Johnson on the high note trumpet stuff. This album is hard to come by, because Columbia dropped their sponsorship of it after it had been recorded, so most of the copies around are the ones printed by Tommy Martin, Chase's early manager. This recording was released on CD in late 1997 with an added cut "Celebrate", although the cut left out Walt Johnson's opening solo work that was recorded up front.

As far as his approach to playing, Bill was an advocate of playing with the lips rolled in. He continually used long tones to build up the lip muscles. Originally he used a lot of pressure, so he began to hold the horn by his finger tips while he practiced to try and break his old habits. While with Maynard, Bill had bent horns in half because he used so much pressure. Bill said that the arched tongue is very important and that he used the ah-oo-ee tongue levels according to register. This increases air velocity and causes the lips to vibrate faster. He used his tongue for lip trills, and moved the horn on a shake, as well as for vibrato. He believed that air pressure was developed in the abdomen.

His equipment changed over the years. He went through Bach, Martin and Getzen Eterna trumpets in the 1960's and ended up playing a Schilke in the 1970's. He had Jet Tone make him mouthpieces for a while, four separate models, and again landed on a Schilke of his own model. It is still sold as the Schilke 6A4A. It has a wide diameter but has a very shallow cup.

Bill's trumpet style and sound has influenced many of the great players of today as well as many up-and-coming musicians. Dave Stahl, Roger Ingram, Lynn Nicholson, Jim Manley, Lin Biviano, Alan Wise and others were greatly influenced by Bill's lead playing with the Herman Herd, as well as by his playing with his own band. Recently trumpeters Jim Manley and Walt Johnson have released albums in the Chase style.

Bill Chase was truly a legend in his own time. His popularity as a musician is still very strong in the trumpet world. His albums are continually the most sought after at record conventions. The memory of Bill Chase will continue to live as long as his music is still appreciated.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2002 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting a good article.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2002 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regards, Roddy o-iii RoddyTpt@aol.com

"E M B O U C H U R E___E N H A N C E M E N T"
BOOK 1 also... BOOK 2 + demo CD

[Self Analysis and Diagnostic Trumpet Method]
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2002 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since someone posted the article I wrote on Bill, I thought people might be interested in seeing the website which has pictures and more.

I also released a live video and CD of Chase several years ago.....
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2002 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


On 2002-02-08 15:05, highnote wrote:
Since someone posted the article I wrote on Bill, I thought people might be interested in seeing the website which has pictures and more.

I also released a live video and CD of Chase several years ago.....

I couldn't help but notice our very own "EMERALD CITY" link!
On the photos...you'll see Thomas Marriott who gave the most stellar performance that I have ever heard in this life time at his mentor's(and my friend's) memorial for the late Roy Cummings...Jazz Studies professor and Trumpet studies master at our Uof Wa.
Thomas Marriot was the 1999 ITG Carusco trumpet competition winner.

Bye the way, Tom performed Roy's favorite song by Roy's favorite composer, The Mighty Thad Jones original works... "A Child is Born"

This performance was under a single spot light, backed by the U's ensemble with a darkened Meany Hall...I can still hear and see this performance with Tom standing there with streams of tears running down his cheeks.
That beautiful Gold Bach of Tom's was truly on fire...with emotion, warmth, and feelings that came through with such loving passion and care. He painted such a priceless painting in pure golden trumpet tones seldom heard. I know Gabriel would truly have been proud..(or jealous of) truly a one of a kind performance.
This old unmighty don had tears...like all the rest of us on stage that afternoon.
Floyd Standifer, and all his peers and old unmighty D...played the final number, with a host of about 80 of his friends and colleagues.. with a final NewOrleans walk out and a march around the campus and back to Meany Hall where we jammed and had a great send off for our friend and mentor...Roy Cummings. Roy was Thomas's instructor and prize graduate. We were all so proud to have known such a gifted human being....with sooooooo much love and jazz in his soul. He DID GOOD!!! OHHHH YES!!!

[ This Message was edited by: MightyDon on 2002-02-08 17:19 ]
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2002 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There will be a Tribute to Bill Chase at the upcoming New York Brass Conference! There will be some incredible trumpet performers taking part. Sounds like a must see!
Robert Keith
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2002 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TptProf is right: 'Tis "a must see." From Links: Musical groups, Entertainers
Primal Therapy, Bill Chase tribute band. Brian Scriver of GR Mpc's, leader/lead tpt.
Bill Scriver's "NY version" of Primal Therapy will be doing the Chase tribute at the NY Brass Conference along with lots of other hot trumpeters. Check it out!


[ This Message was edited by: Cozy on 2002-02-19 13:26 ]
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow...didn't realize he died on the day I was born. What a day Nixon resigns from office and Bill Chase dies. Too bad he didn't leave me his chops. Gosh, he was awesome.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terrific article!

I heard Chase with the Woody Herman band in 1968. The show ended with his version of "Somewhere" from West Side Story. I couldn't believe it! Amazing chops! Amazing passion!

I was on the panel discussion at the National Trumpet Symposium which is mentioned in the article. I can't remember everyone on that panel....I do remember Chase and Vacchiano, though. I was selected as the "Young Trumpet Artist" and played a concert with chamber orchestra. Legh Burns asked me to be on the panel to sort of represent "student" players.

I remember Chase coming up to each panel member before it started and saying how previledged he felt to be on the same stage as the other members. Totally grounded and humble man. That was the only time I had an opportunity to speak with him.

I was in the Fellowship Orchestra at Tanglewood during the summer of 1974. I had just landed the job at the University of Illinois and had to cut out about a week before the festival was over. So, Ghitalla invited all of the Fellowship trumpeters to his cottage for an evening party the night before I had to split. Barb Butler was there, as were three other Fellowship trumpet players.

About 10 pm the phone rang. Ghitalla's wife summoned Mundy to the phone. After a few minutes he came into the living room and was visably upset. His voiced trembled as he told us that that call was to inform him of Chase's plane crash. Party over right then and there. We all were moved by the incident and by Ghitalla's reaction. They were very close.

Dave Hickman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2004 2:40 pm    Post subject: Bill Chase Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments everyone. The article posted here has been updated a lot, and more to come at some point, pictures, etc....

If you want to view the current version, it is on my website:


and click the Chase Story button,

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