Of all the albums Doc Severinsen recorded, I think this one sounds the most like the Tonight Show band. It was a direct to disc recording, where all of the tunes on each side of the record have to be played in one session in real time. The album was mainly for audiophiles, and Doc only played on this one song, called “Chimes”. In fact, Tommy Newsome used the Tonight Show band, so it should sound like the band. Doc sounds great, as usual. If anyone makes a mistake on this type of recording, you have to go back and play all the tunes on that side again. Usually, you just do it once and take the mistakes. It’s a lot more pressure on the musicians to do it this way.
The album never sold very many copies, in fact, it was a limited edition. It’s really too bad it wasn’t Doc’s album to begin with. That might have helped it sell more copies. In my record collection, I learned to put it with Doc’s records, otherwise I might forget all about it. There is no sound like Doc’s sound on the trumpet.
In 1947, Dr. Gene Hall started what is now the Division of Jazz Studies at UNT. I consider Dr. Hall to be the father of Jazz Education in this country and he was co-founder and first President of NAJE, the first association of its kind for jazz educators.
When he left North Texas in 1959 to go to Michigan State University, he recommended Leon Breeden to take his place at North Texas. This is his story, in his own words. This recording was made in 1976 and given to me by his widow, Marjorie Lynn Hall.
If you went to the fall 2014 concert of the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band, you’ll remember that Jay Saunders brought in Chuck Findley as the guest artist. One of the tunes he played was basically this composition, which Chuck dedicated to his wife. It’s called, “The Day We Met”. This is the original song, recorded in 1971.
Jack Daugherty was a music producer in Los Angeles who is best known for producing some of the Carpenters music. In 1971, he put together the top musicians in Los Angeles to record this album, which is one of my favorites. A 23 year old Chuck Findley is the featured trumpet soloist, just to show you how soon he had reached the top.
A friend of mine, Roger Dismore, had the album and made a tape for me. I decided I wanted my own copy of the album for the liner notes and photos, which proved to be difficult due to the lack of sales of the album. I basically spent half of my adult life looking for this album, and a few others, in record stores throughout the area! I couldn’t find it in cd form, either.
When Chuck Findley was the guest artist with the One O’Clock Lab Band in the early 80’s, I asked him about the album. He really liked the album, too, and had his own problems finding it. He told me he finally found it in Europe for $.99 one year when he was over there. I almost asked him how much he wanted for it! I probably should have known at that time I was headed toward a jazz museum someday with thousands of albums in it.
It wasn’t until eBay came out that I finally was able to locate a copy of this album. I had been looking for around 25 years at that point, and I thought eBay was the greatest invention ever. I must have bought ten copies, I was so happy.
This album is now 45 years old, which is very old in the music world. It sounded different in 1971, but has aged pretty well. Chuck’s solo shows what a studio musician must be able to do on a daily basis. You go in, play through a piece of music two or three times, if that many, and move on to another arrangement to sight read. Chuck was so good at that, and has been my favorite player for years. He is the quintessential studio trumpet player, being able to play lead, jazz, or section parts.
This music has never been issued on cd that I know of, and is not in the iTunes store. I wonder if it will be lost forever as time goes by. Won’t that be sad? It’s basically been lost since it came out, as far as I’m concerned!
Today reminds me that Bill Chase was killed in a plane crash 41 years ago. Bill was the great lead trumpet player with Woody Herman and others, and the leader of the rock group, Chase. I’ll never forget hearing the news that day and thinking about what a tragic loss to the trumpet world. His rock group was just getting famous and he was becoming as popular as Maynard Ferguson with the younger crowd. After his death, Maynard had the place to himself as he toured and played at college campuses.
Every band and DCI group played “Get It On” at some point, which was the hit tune by Chase. It’s the last time we have heard a great rock band with four trumpets who play the lead. There will probably never be another group like this again. Trumpets in rock bands are rare, anyway.
I’ve include two tunes in the video, that showcase Bill’s playing and writing. Bill played lead with Woody, and wrote tunes that featured the trumpet section and himself. You can hear the beginnings of Chase when you listen to some of the Woody Herman recordings.
When the Woody Herman band was winning best band awards in 1963 it’s no accident Bill was playing lead. He had an energy that propelled the band like no other. Woody used his trumpet section like a firing squad and the band had the power of an explosion when they let it loose. I never heard Bill play live with the band, and it’s my loss. I was just too young to be able to go hear them.
I did hear Chase live in Fort Worth at Haltom High School six months before the plane crash that killed Bill and half of the band. The book was so hard to play every night that I wondered how Bill would be able to continue at that pace as he got older. Maynard could do it, but could Bill? Most trumpet players could not handle a book like that night after night.
Bill started as a classical trumpet player in life until, in 1951, he went to hear a Stan Kenton concert. Maynard was still playing the featured trumpet chair in Kenton’s band and from that night on Bill wanted to play like Maynard Ferguson. Everyone always remembers the first time they hear Maynard play live! But it changed Bill’s life forever.
Bill even went on to play lead in Maynard’s band and in Kenton’s years later before making his name in the Woody Herman band. I heard that he even got fired from Maynard’s band because he couldn’t play high enough, so he changed equipment, worked harder at it, and emerged as a great lead player with Woody a few years later.
Every musician who has ever played has been influenced by someone before them. You can hear Maynard when you hear Bill Chase play, and Maynard was influenced by those before him like Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Harry James, Bunny Berigan, etc. It’s all connected in the evolution of music. Bill Chase was a part of that evolution until he was taken from us on August 9, 1974.
The only other noteworthy news that day in August of 1974 was that Richard Nixon resigned. That made all the headlines, but in my heart, losing Bill Chase was the real story. We can replace a President, but I haven’t heard another player just like Bill Chase, or a group like Chase, yet.
The Woody Herman song in the video is “El Toro Grande”; the Chase tune is “Swanee River”.