A Tribute To Scream Trumpet Player
Bill Chase of CHASE!
Scream trumpet player Bill Chase is one of the most highly regarded high note or scream trumpet players of the twentieth century. His fiery lead trumpet antics, intense styling, stratospheric solos and use of screaming cascading trumpet lines are forever etched into jazz-rock musical history. Scream trumpet player Bill Chase's high energy jazz-rock group "Chase," was light years ahead of their time and to this day has still not been rivaled in intensity or style.
Scream trumpet player Bill Chase was born William Edward Chiaiese to Italian parents John and Emily Chiaise on October 20, 1934 in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents changed their name to Chase, realizing Chiaiese was difficult to pronounce. Bill's father played trumpet in the Gillette Marching Band and along with his mother encouraged Bill's musical interests, which included a brief flirtation with the violin and the drums. Bill started playing his dads old trumpet the summer before his junior year in high school and settled on the trumpet as his instrument of choice. Bill's first preference in music was symphonic or classical music. He had nothing to do with jazz while he was in high school.
After graduating from high school, Bill began studying classical trumpet at the New England Conservatory of Music; however, he soon switched to the Berklee School of Music in Boston mainly because he did not like his trumpet teachers approach at the New England Conservatory. Bill studied for a couple of years with renowned trombonist and brass teacher John Coffey who he credits with helping him get his embouchure placement optimal. Armando Ghitalla of the Boston Symphony was Bill's primary trumpet teacher at that time and helped Bill learn to love everything about the trumpet Since he was at Berkley taking trumpet lessons, they talked him into taking other courses such as arranging. 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. They performed in a little downstairs club called "The Stable." That was a place all the musicians visited because Herb Pomeroy's band was a great band with a great reputation throughout the country. People like Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and Maynard would come in to hear the band when they were performing in Boston. Bill 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 trumpet book. While at Berklee in 1952, Bill attended his first Stan Kenton concert - featuring Maynard Ferguson on lead trumpet - and Bill was hooked on jazz and high note trumpet from that time forward. The next day he went out and bought all of Stan Kenton's records and went after that particular scream trumpet sound in a fierce way.
Bill worked in the Boston Shipyards on and off during his time at Berkley to help finance his trumpet lessons. This type of work fit right into Bill's interest in staying fit and in shape. During his time at Berkley, Bill worked out with champion wrestler Steve Casey. He also got involved in Karate, Judo and Jujitsu. Bill enjoyed working out with weights; swimming and water skiing. He also became an avid photographer.
Chase began to build his reputation playing with Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson, and during the 1960s he played lead trumpet in Woody Herman's Thundering Herd. Recordings of the Herman band from that time period, including Woody's Winners, Live in Antibes, Encore, 1963, My Kind of Broadway, Blue Flame, Live in Seattle, Somewhere, Live at Newport 1966; Heavy Exposure, Woody Herman & the Fourth Herd, and Jazz Hoot are considered some of the most exciting recordings in the Herman discography. The Woody's Winners album in 1965 is probably the best, as far as Bill's playing goes. Many of tunes Bill wrote and arranged were recorded by the Woody Herman 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. The band also filmed several television appearances for the television program Jazz Casual. One of Chase's original charts from this period, "Camel Walk," was published in Downbeat magazine. In a 1971 interview with noted Jazz critic Leonard Feather, Bill recalled his days with Maynard, "Playing for him was literally a dream realized. There wasn't a single night of the 18 months I worked in his band that I didn't get chills when he played "Tenderly." He's so heavy he's ridiculous! I love that cat."
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. In Vegas, Bill's reputation as a lead trumpet player landed him many quality gigs. Bill quickly grew bored of life in the clubs and 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 trumpet player. When big shows came to Vegas needing an extra trumpet player, Bill was the trumpet player that each artist would call on. When Johnny Carson would come to town, Doc Severinsen would call Bill to play in the band.
In 1970, Bill started his own jazz-rock fusion band, known as Chase, which released its debut album "Chase" in early 1971. Bill Chase was joined by Ted Piercefield, Alan Ware, and Jerry Van Blair, three veteran jazz trumpeters who were also adept at vocals and arranging. They were backed up by a rhythm section consisting of Phil Porter on keyboards, Angel South on guitar, Dennis Johnson on bass, and Jay Burrid on percussion. Rounding out the group was Terry Richards, who was featured as lead vocalist on the first album. The album contains Chase's best-known song, "Get It On," which was released as a single and spent thirteen weeks on the charts starting in May of 1971. It features what Jim Szantor of Downbeat magazine called "the hallmark of the Chase brass - complex cascading lines; a literal waterfall of trumpet timbre and technique." The band received a Best New Artist Grammy nomination, eventually losing the award to Carly Simon.
Soon thereafter Bill Chase stated, "On our next album we'll be aiming for more color, more variety of expression. I built a bit of a monster for myself with the four trumpets, especially since I don't care for the more commonly used mutes. But we can level off a lot by doubling more often on Flugelhorns. There have to be plenty of vocals because it helps sell the band. But I agree about the words. We have some lyrics now that are more meaningful. In most jazz-rock bands, the horns tend to be just a background, the horns are in the forefront here and that's what's different about our group, I believe. We want the horns to be predominant, to share the mileage without drowning the singer out, and to allow for enough instrumental passages so that the right proportions are maintained."
Chase released their second album, Ennea, in 1972; the album's title is the Greek word for "Nine," a reference to the nine band members. The original lineup changed midway through the recording sessions, with Gary Smith taking over on drums and G. G. Shinn replacing Terry Richards on lead vocals. Although the first Chase album sold nearly 400,000 copies, Ennea was not as well received by the public. A possible reason for this may have been the shift of focus away from the trumpet section. As Bill Chase put it in a Downbeat interview, "I don't want people to be heavily conscious of a trumpet section. They should just hear good things, but not be clobbered over the head with brass." A single, "So Many People," received some radio play, but the side-two-filling "Ennea" suite, with its tightly-chorded jazz arrangements and lyrics based on Greek mythology, was less radio-friendly.
Following an extended hiatus, Chase reemerged early in 1974 with the release of Pure Music, their third album. With an entirely new lineup, but keeping the four-trumpet section headed by Bill Chase, the group moved further from the rock idiom, placing their focus more heavily on jazz. Variety magazine said that Pure Music was "probably Chase's most commercial effort and their brand of jazz could have a commercial impact." The songs were written by Jim Peterik of the Ides of March, who also sings on the two songs on the album with lyrics, backing up singer and bassist Dartanyan Brown.
Scream trumpet player Bill Chase was an advocate of playing trumpet with the lips rolled in. He continually used long tones to build up his chops. Bill also believed that the arched tongue was very important and he used the ah-oo-ee tongue levels according to register. This increased air velocity and caused the lips to vibrate faster. Bill used his tongue for lip trills, and moved the horn on a shake, as well as for vibrato. Bill believed that air pressure was developed in the abdomen. Bill was a big believer in long tones, disciplined practice, utilizing the least amount of pressure and developing the muscles in the face. Bill believed that the muscles in the face were very important and not stressed enough by beginning trumpet teachers and the older trumpet method books. Bill believed in whatever mouthpiece placement worked for each individual player. Bill had a slight over-bite so he played with his trumpet angled down as a result. Due to his concentration on developing his facial muscles, he could play with his cheeks puffed out, pulled in, one out, one in etc. He could even control the muscles behind his eyes.
As with many trumpet artist, Bill's equipment changed over the years. In the 1950's, Bill Chase played a Martin-Committee 2B trumpet. The Martin-Committee 2B trumpet had an up-turned bell which he used until 1964, he then switched to a straight bell model. In 1964, Chase briefly played a Getzen 900, he then switched to a Schilke Model B6 in silver. In 1968 he again switched to the Schilke B6 Model with a beryllium tuning bell. The Schilke Model B6 has a medium .450 bore that tapers out to a medium large .463 bell. As far as trumpet mouthpieces, in the 1950's Chase used a Giardinelli. From 1960 thru 1971 he used custom Jet-Tone models the BCB & BC. Jet-Tone model BCB had a small shallow cup & rim with a tight #28 throat. The BC model Jet-Tone had a deeper cup. Late in 1971, Renold Schilke developed the Schilke Bill Chase (6A4a) model trumpet mouthpiece for Bill based on the Jet-Tone BCB model, but with a more defined cushion #4 rim, 27 throat, and tight A back-bore.
Work began on a fourth studio album in mid-1974. However, on August 9, 1974, while in route to a scheduled performance at the Jackson County Fair, Bill Chase died in a plane crash in Jackson, Minnesota. Also killed along with the pilots were keyboardist Wally Yohn, drummer Walter Clark, and guitarist John Emma. In 1977, a Chase tribute band (composed primarily of the original lineup, plus Walt Johnson as the fourth trumpet player) recorded an album entitled "Watch Closely Now."
Bill Chase's Discography at CD Universe
The group CHASE's three albums
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