Thursday, March 6, 2008

CHASE: Open Up Wide and Get It On!

I became a drummer when I was about 12 because of 1960s/1970s horn bands. One of my brothers was a trumpet player back in the day of bands like Chase, Chicago Transit Authority (later Chicago), Blood Sweat and Tears, and Tower of Power. Gary played in the High School pep band and unlike other pep bands that played for basketball games etc were maybe covering the theme from Hawaii 5-O, at best, the Pullman High School Pep Band covered the horn bands of the day. They had trumpet players that could nail those high c notes upside my young maleable head and they had electric guitar and bass. The other thing they had was two drummers playing full drum kits. The sorry bands from other schools, if they were lucky enough to have a band usually had one guy playing a bass drum, another on snare, and maybe a girl on cymbal. They must have been humiliated. The band my brother was in was loud as hell and during half time the drummers would have a drum war. The wicked screaming eagle wail of those horns and the power of those drums rockin' the gym hooked the twelve year old me. I wanted that massive horn driven power behind me too. I knew then I wanted to play drums in a band.

The horn band that really knocked me out way back then was Chase. Led by Bill Chase, former lead trumpet player wih Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson, they combined jazz, funk, soul and rock into a spicy stew that while appealing to more commercial tastes with hits like Get It On and Open Up Wide still challenged the ears of the more discerning listener with tracks like the fourteen minute closer on their first album entitled Invitation To A River. Tower Of Power's horns and rhythm section grooved very hard, smart and soulful and early Chicago came close on occasion to matching Bill Chase's complex arrangements but in the end Chase's classical and jazz training added a depth that the others lacked for me. Chase released three albums between 1971 and 1974 before dying with his band in a plane crash on the way to a gig in Jackson MN. Ironically track one on their debut album Chase was titled Open Up Wide while the last track on their final album Pure Music was called Close Up Tight.

CHASE at MySpace

Open Up Wide MP3
Get it On MP3

I don't know if my brother knew how many of his albums I listened to while he was out of the house but I want to say THANK YOU to my big brother Gary and to all the big brothers and big sisters and moms and dads and Aunts and Uncles of the world with good taste who take the time to turn the kids on to the real good music and set their ears and minds on the right path and away from radio blandness and pablum.
We totally owe you.

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