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Bill Chase
Birth nameWilliam Edward Chiaiese
Born(1934-10-20)October 20, 1934
Squantum, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedAugust 9, 1974(1974-08-09) (aged 39)
Jackson, Minnesota
GenresJazz rock, swing
Associated actsChase

Bill Chase (October 20, 1934 – August 9, 1974) was an American trumpeter and leader of the jazz-rock band Chase.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Interview: Bill Chase on Restoring Collectible Firearms
  • ✪ Get It On (Bill Chase, arr. Paul Jennings)


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another video on I'm Ian McCullom, and I am joined today by Mr. Bill Chase, you did something really cool. I did a video on a Reifgraber automatic pistol a couple of years ago that was selling at auction and it turns out you're the one who bought it, and you went through and actually restored it to a pretty darn awesome looking condition, from having been a complete wreck! (Bill) I was told it was in a fire. (Ian) That's never a good thing. (Bill) No. (Ian) So, I mean, I don't know if you've watched the TV programs but I have and I know a bunch of the audience has; most people only are aware of firearms restoration as the subject of bad reality TV. But it turns out firearms restoration is a very real thing. (Bill) Possible (Ian) There are some companies out there; the one that comes to my mind is Turnbull, that does really gorgeous work on Colts and Winchesters, (Bill) Right, (Ian) But you did more than ju- I mean, this isn't just refinishing; you were manufacturing complete new parts for this Reifgraber (Bill) Right. (Ian) How does that work? (Ian) [laughs] (Bill) Well luckily I had another Reifgraber to copy, which makes it a whole lot easier (Ian) Okay (Bill) But I have done it without things to copy (Bill) It just takes a lot longer. (Ian) You have a background in machining? (Bill) Yes, I was a chief engineer of a plastic injection molder for just 30 years. (Ian) Okay, That's a pretty good background for making things! (Bill) Yeah Yeah, that was responsible for all the toolings, so dealt with all the machine tools (Ian) Okay So there's really, there are a couple steps to this: You have to deal with creating any parts that simply don't exist any more, (Bill) Right, (Ian) You have to deal with restoring a surface, so if a surface is pitted, or damaged, you have to fix that before you can just re-blue it, or else you end up with the very stereotypical really bad re-blue where you can see all the pits that have been blued over, (Bill) Right, (Ian) And you don't want that for a proper professional looking gun (Bill) Right (Ian) So... For example, what do you do to restore the surface? (Bill) Well, again, it depends on the depths of the pits, which is, you know, the biggest problem, so if they're really big, really deep, you weld them up and then take them back to flat and then once you've got all those really deep pits taken out of there you go back to the surface, basically with a polishing stone, or a series of polishing stones, and you polish it back to a flat surface, flat uniform surface. (Ian) Okay, which of course destroys all the engraving? (Bill) Usually it'll take it off. It's usually that deep the engraving isn't very deep and then, you know you've got to get that put back on. (Ian) Okay. (Bill) So an engraver can do it; a guy with a pantograph can do some of it; that all depends what was put on. (Ian) Okay, I think you mentioned on this one you left the markings on this side, you left some remnant of them, to kind of balance how much you took the surface; it's not quite perfect, but it left you the engraving so that there was something there for the engraver to copy. (Bill) Right; and he could just recut everything then, but just to a uniform depth (Ian) Okay, instead of having to, like, give him the design and have him create it entirely from scratch, so a lot of this is about compromise in how much do you want to spend, how much time do you want to have invested? Versus what outcome are you looking for? Okay (Ian) You mentioned to me off-camera how long you've been working on the formula for the, the bluing that you did on that. (Bill) You're right: A long time! It's the, the carbona blue. You know it was done by everybody, was probably, well, it was done in Europe. It was done by Colt, it was done by Smith, it was done by Savage, but nowhere is it really documented how it was done. (Ian) When you say "carbona" blue. What is that? (Bill) Carbona was a, a chemical that was sold by the American Furnace Company, and that's about as much as I found out about it! (Ian) [laughs] (Bill) And it was mixed with other chemicals, and then generated in a furnace where it generated smoke, and the smoke is what generates the color. So depending on what you use to generate the smoke you will get variations in the color. (Ian) Okay. (Bill) And Turnbull wouldn't tell me specifically how you do it. (Ian) [laughs] (Bill) There was a lot of years of experimentation. (Ian) "Years", Okay. (Bill) Years. (Ian) This one looks like it turned out pretty gorgeous. (Bill) Yeah, it's nice and uniform they start blue-black. (Ian) Okay, and this is something that, Serious firearms appraisers, and collectors, can recognize the different tones in finish; not just different colors, you know, there's bluing and then there's black finishes, and Parkerizing; but within bluing, the subtleties of exactly what color tone really make a big difference and that's one of the ways people look for guns that have been restored. (Bill) Right; or are, more so, are original. (Ian) Right, yeah (Ian) So another big element to this thing was when you got this gun, it had no grips on it at all, and this is an original one, and this is the one that you have recreated; Those grips look, like, identical. How did that happen? (Bill) They were cast from originals, so you make a mold out of silicone rubber and then, basically pour a... This is a polyester, two-part polyester. That's poured into the mold, and it'll bring up, it'll bring up scratches, It'll bring up hairline cracks. It really picks up the detail and, again, it's a long, drawn-out process in order to, you've got to make a housing that you're gonna put the silicone rubber into that you put over the grips and, you know, you take it apart, now you've got a nice perfect casting of that grip, and now you've got to fill that cavity with the, with the grip material, without putting any bubbles in it, which, you know, you can easily do that within three or four tries. (Ian) I was gonna ask: How many, in order to get two good grip panels, how many did you have to throw away? (Bill) Half a dozen. (Ian) It's not too bad... That's fewer than I was expecting. (Bill) Yeah. Sometimes, it works well, and sometimes it just doesn't work [laughs] (Ian) Okay, as much art as anything else. (Bill) That's about it, yeah. But again, we're learning. (Bill) It's getting easier Ian) So... (Ian) I think there are people out there who say, who think, that this is like a regular business that a lot of people engage in, you know, 'Oh I'll get the gun and I'll restore it and then I'll sell it for a profit' How much time do you think you have invested in that thing? (Bill) Over a hundred hours, I would imagine. (Ian) Okay, so if we take that and we apply any sort of reasonable... machinist hourly rate, or mechanic's hourly rate, or artisan's hourly rate; you're talking a crapload of money. This isn't something you can just do on a whim, 'Oh, I'll just whip up a restored Reifgraber,' this really is as much a labor of love as it is anything else. (Bill) Right, yeah. When I bought it, because I had won the copy, I thought this will be a piece of cake and then between the, the refinishing, you know, the surface was all rusted, and... no grips and pieces missing, it just... It's not something I'll do again, I don't think (Ian) [laughs] (Bill) Unless I really want it for myself, you know, then you can put in as many hours as you're willing to; but I already had one, it's nowhere near as nice looking as this but, I had one, so I knew I could do it. But I thought I could maybe make a dollar and, I won't! (Ian) Okay And if you aren't gonna make a dollar without a middleman, the idea of someone else hiring someone like you to do this sort of work, and then sell the final product at a premium, it's got to be something extremely special; especially considering in general how much more valuable guns are in their original condition, instead of being restored. (Bill) Well, there is a point where restoring doesn't hurt. (Ian) Well this is definitely an example. (Bill) Right, that was in that condition. (Ian) But it's kind of that point where if restoring doesn't hurt the value, it's gonna cost so much in time and effort to do the restoration that you're probably not going to make any money on it anyway. (Bill) Right. Somebody's gotta want it real bad. (Ian) Yeah, so these are more, this isn't market- or profit-driven; This is really 'I have a personal connection to this gun and I'd like to have someone restore it,' that sort of motive. (Bill) Yeah, yeah. (Ian) Okay; so when you did brand-new parts like the trigger, because there was no trigger in that gun when you bought it, (Bill) Right, (Ian) How do you do that? Is this trial and error? Do you sketch it out on a napkin? [laughs] (Bill) No, Every part I make I draw up on CAD (Ian) Okay (Bill) And again, I have a trigger, but the way the original trigger was made, I couldn't make it that way, so this is just machined from the solid and it duplicates the operation and, duplicates the basic shape, but it's not exactly the same as the original. (Ian) Now, my understanding is: CNC machines are this cool magic box, and you can just put a piece of metal in and hit the button, and it will spit out whatever your part is. (Bill) So you obviously have never run a CNC machine! (Ian) [laughs] I'm being sarcastic; I have in fact, I have done I have a certification of a very basic CNC mill and lathe certification, but there are a lot of people out there who have not run a CNC and don't realize that you can't just push a button and have it spit out a part. (Bill) Right. You've got to feed it all the exact information, and, (Ian) And you have to jig some fixtures, you have to hold it in the right place, get the right cutting paths... Do you use CNC machinery, or do you use manual machinery? (Bill) I typically use manual but, there's a lot of cases where I'm using wire EDM. (Ian) Oh, interesting, okay. (Bill) Like I recently just had to make a spring, a small leaf spring, that was contoured, you know... And again, I had a broken one so you, Again you got to, kind of, piece it back together and then draw the shape as it should be, and then a wire EDM can follow whatever contour you give it, so it'll do two dimensions. (Ian) Right. So do you, for something like that, you take a piece of flat sheet steel? Cut the profile, and then heat and bend it to the rig? (Bill) No, I cut it to the shape, (Ian) Oh, wow (Bill) To the contour; then you're cutting it through a piece of steel that's the width you want. (Ian) So you're taking a block of steel cutting a leaf spring. Wow. BAM okay (Bill) And it works well to duplicate springs; especially, you know, a form of leaf spring that they typically file out. (Ian) Okay, (Bill) They're covered with file marks! So it wasn't an easy process way back when. (Ian) So, I think we've pretty well covered the Reifgraber; this obviously is not your first attempt at something like this. (Bill) No. (Ian) What's the, what's the most complicated, involved restoration you've done? (Bill) It involves a little bit of a story in that... (Ian) Sounds good! (Bill) It was a Searle, Searle design, who did the Savage. (Ian) Okay, S-E-A-R-L-E, yeah, (Bill) Right, and when the Savage Corporation closed, there was a safe at the auction; it wasn't open. It couldn't be opened at the time. A friend of mine bought it, got it open and found inside of it the 1903 Savage prototype But it was just missing a couple parts. It had a slide, a barrel, and a receiver. All the small parts, grips, magazines, were missing; but the patent drawings were fairly complete, fairly detailed. So, what I did was, draw up the three components and look at how they go together, and then I could go back to the patent drawings, see what part did this; 'This is a hammer.' I knew where it went. And between knowing where it had to fit, and what it looked like, I could draw that part up; and I had to do that with each of the missing parts, and there were a bunch of them. (Ian) No kidding, geez. (Bill) Yeah, so that project took me six months to complete, not full time obviously, but still, it was over a six month duration. (Ian) How typical is it for patent drawings to be good enough to do that? My understanding is that usually the patent drawings kind of only have a vague similarity to the finished product? (Bill) That's true, (Ian) Okay (Bill) They obviously don't have any dimensions, but in this case there was enough there, and I think this was more detailed than a lot that you see today. (Ian) It probably also helped that you were working on the first prototype, not an eventual production version, which... (Bill) Well that would have made it real easy! (Ian) ...that would certainly have many differences, well true, if you had a real one to copy, yeah! (Bill) Yeah, so this, it was a project in itself, you know, and I'm making a magazine; that's a project in itself, I've done that several times. (Ian) Okay That's gonna be challenging I mean, magazines are very finicky; you have to have the things like feed lips just right or else they just don't work. (Bill) Right. Yeah, they can be adjusted a little as you go, but not a lot. (Ian) The key is making magazines for collectible guns that aren't ever gonna be shot, so no one will ever know [Both laugh] (Bill) Yeah, that helps! (Ian) All right, well very cool. Thank you very much for joining us and sharing some of those stories, fascinating. (Bill) Thanks for having me. It was fun. (Ian) Thanks for watching guys, hopefully you enjoyed the video. Tune back in tomorrow for more Forgotten Weapons.



Bill Chase was born William Edward Chiaiese on October 20, 1934 to an Italian-American family in Squantum, Massachusetts.[1] His parents changed their name to Chase because they thought Chiaiese was difficult to pronounce.[1] His father played trumpet in the Gillette Marching Band and encouraged his son's musical interests, which included violin and drums. In his mid-teens he settled on trumpet. Chase attended his first Stan Kenton concert, which included trumpeters Conte Candoli and Maynard Ferguson.[1]

After graduating from high school, he studied classical trumpet at the New England Conservatory but switched to the Schillinger House of Music (Berklee College of Music).[2] His instructors included Herb Pomeroy[2] and Armando Ghitalla.[1]

Chase played lead trumpet with Maynard Ferguson in 1958, Stan Kenton in 1959, and Woody Herman's Thundering Herd during the 1960s.[3]

One of Chase's charts from this period, "Camel Walk", was published in the 1963 Downbeat magazine yearbook. From 1966 to 1970 he freelanced in Las Vegas, working with Vic Damone and Tommy Vig.[4] In 1967 he led a six piece band at the Dunes and Riviera Hotel where he was featured in the Frederick Apcar lounge production of Vive Les Girls, for which Chase arranged the music.

In 1971 he started a jazz rock band that mixed pop, rock, blues, and four trumpets.[5] The debut album Chase was released in April 1971. Chase was joined by Ted Piercefield, Alan Ware, and Jerry Van Blair, three jazz trumpeters who were 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 John “Jay Burrid” Mitthaur on percussion. Rounding out the group was Terry Richards, who was the lead vocalist on the first album. The album contains Chase's most popular song, "Get It On", released as a single that spent 13 weeks on the charts beginning in May 1971. The song 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, but was edged out by rising star Carly Simon.

Chase released their second album, Ennea, in March 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. The third album, Pure Music, moved the band toward jazz. The songs were written by Jim Peterik of the Ides of March, who sings on two songs on the album, backing up singer and bassist Dartanyan Brown.

Plane crash

Chase's work on a fourth studio album in mid-1974 came to an end on August 9, 1974.[6]While en route to a scheduled performance at the Jackson County Fair, Chase died in the crash of a chartered twin-engine Piper Twin Comanche[7] in Jackson, Minnesota at the age of 39.[6] The pilot and co-pilot were killed, as were keyboardist Wally Yohn, guitarist John Emma, and drummer Walter Clark.[6][8]


Chase encouraged long tones as an exercise for developing the embouchure and attributed much of his ability in the upper register of the trumpet to this practice. He was also physically fit. He lifted weights and used stretching routines he learned from female dancers in the Latin Quarter of New York City.[9]


  • Chase (Epic, 1971)
  • Ennea (Epic, 1972)
  • Pure Music (Epic, 1974)
  • Live Forever (The Hallmark Chase Group, 1998)[5]
  • The Concert Series Volume 1 (The Hallmark Chase Group 2001)
  • The Concert Series Volume 2 (The Hallmark Chase Group 2001)
  • The Concert Series Volume 3 (The Hallmark Chase Group 2001)

As sideman

With Maynard Ferguson

With Woody Herman

  • At the Monterey Jazz Festival (Atlantic, 1960)
  • The New Swingin' Herman Herd (Crown, 1960)
  • The New World of Woody Herman (Jazz Legacy)
  • Encore (Philips, 1963)
  • The Swingin'est Big Band Ever (Philips, 1963)
  • Woody Herman–1963 (Phillips, 1963)
  • The Swinging Herman Herd-Recorded Live (Philips, 1964)
  • My Kind of Broadway (Columbia, 1964)
  • Woody Herman: 1964 (Philips, 1964)
  • Woody's Big Band Goodies (Philips, 1965)
  • Woody's Winners (Columbia, 1965)
  • The Jazz Swinger (Columbia, 1966)
  • Woody Live East and West (Columbia, 1967)
  • The Magpie (Atlantic, 1967)
  • Heavy Exposure (Cadet, 1969)
  • Double Exposure (Chess, 1976)
  • Live in Antibes 1965 (France's Concert, 1988)
  • Live in Seattle (Moon, 1989)
  • Blue Flame (Lester, 1991)
  • Live in Stereo 1963 Summer Tour (Jazz Hour, 1991)
  • Live Guard Sessions with Sarah Vaughan (Jazz Band, 1991)

With Stan Kenton


  1. ^ a b c d Seeley, Kevin. "The Chase Biography". Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Bill Chase | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2006-04-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ From the Music Capitals of the World: Las Vegas. Nielsen Business Media. 29 October 1966. pp. 38–. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b Myers, Patricia (1 November 1999). "Bill Chase: Chase Live Forever". JazzTimes. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International. p. 267. CN 5585.
  7. ^ "Plane tragedy near Jackson ends career of Bill Chase". Jackson County Pilot. Jackson, Minnesota. 14 August 1974. p. 1.
  8. ^ "Four in Rock Group Killed in Air Crash; Two Crewmen Dead". The New York Times. 11 August 1974. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Repirnts from the Internationalo Trumpet Guild Journal : John La Barbera : Bill Chase : A Reminiscence" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-14.

Other sources

  • Szantor, Jim, Downbeat magazine, articles of February 4, 1971, and February 3, 1972.
  • "New Acts" column, Variety magazine, March 13, 1974.
  • "Obituaries" column, Billboard magazine, August 31, 1974.

External links

This page was last edited on 14 September 2019, at 06:22
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