I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all lovers of the power and excitement that can only be generated by screaming trumpets!
You may be aware that the three original Chase albums have been released on CD within the past few years. One Way Records, a label that specializes in re-issues released the eponymousChaseon one CD in 1996 (#26660), andEnneaandPure Musictogether on one CD in 1997 (#28726). For those of you who have led deprived lives and are unfamiliar with Chase, here's a brief history. Bill Chase was one of the most powerful and precise screaming lead trumpeters jazz has known; he was most noted for driving the Woody Herman orchestra in the mid- to late-sixties. In 1970, he formed a nine-piece jazz-rock band called simply "Chase" (four trumpets, rhythm section, and vocalist), and released three albums. This was one of the most hard-driving and exciting ensembles I have ever heard. But in August, 1974, Chase and three band members (Wally Yohn, John Emma, and drummer Walter Clark) were killed in a small plane crash en route to a gig.
Now, the BIG news! A small independent label called the Hallmark Chase Group has released two other Chase CDs!!!
Chase Live Foreveris a live recording made in Chicago nightclubs between October 23-26, 1973. This recording features the newer band that recordedPure Music(including the brilliant synthesizer pioneer Wally Yohn). The four instrumental songs fromPure Musicare on this CD, "Weird Song #1," "Twinkles," "Bo Chowa," and "Close Up Tight." "Open Up Wide" and "Get It On" from the first CD open and close the program. "Shades of Venus" is an instrumental version of "Aphrodite" from the "Ennea" suite. "Ode to a New England Jellyfish" and "MacArthur Park" did not appear on any of the original albums. While the tunes are exciting and it's interesting to contrast them with the studio versions (many of the solos are quite different), the album has its faults. An annoying amplifier buzz permeates most of the selections, although it is drowned out by the louder sections, and there's some bar crowd noise. The mix isn't the greatest; guitarist John Emma is often lost in the mix and Chase himself could be more predominant at times. And like many live performances, there are plenty of rough edges - this doesn't have the precision and finesse that the band's studio recordings had. And most annoying, the encore "Get It On" is faded out after the organ solo in the middle. "Get It On" is the only vocal, by the way; you may recall thatPure Musicfocused on lengthier instrumental songs. Bassist Dartanyan Brown delivers a decent vocal, but it's buried in the mix. Despite its faults, this CD is a welcome release, and any Chase lover should add this CD to his/her collection anyway.
Watch Closely Nowis a studio recording made by what is essentially a reunion band made up of most of the members of the first band: Ted Piercefield, Alan Ware, and Jerry Van Blair on trumpets, Gary Smith on drums, Dennis Johnson on bass, and Terry Richards on some vocals. Jim Peterik, who sang the two vocals onPure Music, splits the vocals with Richards. Walt Johnson fills Chase's shoes admirably, but is just a little shy of Chase's sheer force and "balls." The tunes are pretty decent 70s pop fare with occasional forays into disco (mostly the three familiar tunes, "Superman," "Rocky," and "Celebrate"). The unfamiliar tunes on the program are more interesting, featuring good lyrics and decent horn arrangements. The program lacks the depth the first two Chase CDs had, most notably for the absence of a suite such as "Invitation to a River" or "Ennea." The recording quality is excellent - crisp, clear, and "hot" - on par with the original Chase studio dates. While this CD isn'tquitethe real Chase, it comes pretty close. I recommend it.
The only place I have found to buy these CDs is at http://www.great-music.com . They cost $14.95 each, plus $5.58 S&H, for a total of $35.48.
OnChase Live Forever:
Tracks:Open Up Wide; Close Up Tight; Shades of Venus; Weird Song #1; Ode to a New England Jellyfish; Twinkles; Bo Chowa; MacArthur Park; Get It On. (73:03)
Bill Chase, Jay Sollenberger, Jim Oatts, Joe Morrissey - trumpets; Wally Yohn - keyboards; John Emma - guitar; Dartanyan Brown - bass, vocals; Tom Gordon - drums.
OnWatch Closely Now:
Tracks:Watch Closely Now; Having a Good Time; Those Eyes; Angry Young Men; The Song is Over; Superman; Writing on the Wall; Show Me a Place; Rocky; What You Say; Celebrate. (38:38)
Walt Johnson, Ted Piercefield, Alan Ware, Jerry Van Blair - trumpets; Gary Smith - drums; Dennis Johnson - bass; Terry Fryer - keyboards; Bruce Gaitsch - guitar; Terry Richards, Jim Peterik, Ted Piercefield - vocals.