Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Bill Chase, August 12 1974

Bill Chase (born in 1934) had an unusual heritage for an influential jazz man – he came from Boston, born to Italian parents who came from musical roots.  Chase studied classical trumpet in the early 1950s, but soon came under the influence of contemporary jazz.  By 1960, he was playing with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, and after a decade fronted his own group, Chase, a nine-piece jazz-rock fusion group fronted by four trumpets.  It was through Chase that Bill perfected his fusion sound, built on complex arrangements that put the emphasis on soaring, demanding trumpet play. Chase released three albums: the self-titled “Chase” in 1971; “Ennea” in 1972; and Pure Music in 1974.  The group was working on a fourth album in the summer of 1974.  Sadly, this effort would never come to fruition, as four members of Chase -- Bill Chase, guitarist John Emma, drummer Walter Clark, and pianist  Wally Yohn – boarded a plane in Chicago to fly to Jackson, Minnesota to play a county fair.  The Piper PA-30 Comanche they were flying on came down when pilot Dan Ludwig attempted to land in Jackson in heavy rain.  A distress signal was picked up near Armstrong, Iowa, which was the last communication from the craft. The NTSB probable cause blames pilot error, specifically an improper IFR operation (there was 400 feet of ceiling at Jackson that afternoon).