Born: October 20, 1934 | Died: August 9, 1974 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
William Edward Chiaiese was born on October 20, 1934 to John and Emily Chiaiese(key-ah-tze) in Dorchester , Massachusetts . The family later moved to Squantum , Mass. John changed the family name to Chase, understanding that the Italian name Chiaiese was both hard to spell and pronounce.
While Bill was growing up his parents felt that he needed to broaden his horizons and arranged for him to take violin lessons. Bill did not even touch the trumpet, until the middle of his high school years. A newspaper clipping dated 1956 pictures Bill listed as a Corporal in the 26th Yankee Infantry Division Band holding a bass drum. Bill's experience as a drummer changed his life and the lives of many others. During a St. Patrick's Day parade he had to lug his huge drum for five miles enduring the miserably cold pouring rain. It hurt so bad that he decided never to do it again, he asked his father to dig out his old trumpet for him.
Not long after switching to trumpet, Bill was playing first chair in the school orchestra and classical music was his main love. Early 1950's a neighbor coaxed Bill to attend a Stan Kenton concert with him. This was the band with Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Childers, Conte Condoli, etc. After that night, Bill was hooked on jazz and high note trumpet.
As you can tell, this time period in Bills life is hard to decipher. Bill was doing so much playing, and he became very good so quickly, that the dates are very confusing. Since Maynard left the Kenton Band and headed to Hollywood in 1953, Bill must have seen Kenton before then. I can only assume that he switched to the trumpet around 1951 at about the age of 16.
Boston Globe writer Ernie Santosuosso wrote about Bill in 1971, “Bill Chase has been experimenting with sounds all of his life. As a youngster in the Fields Corner community of Dorchester , he was intrigued by the drums. Since he didn’t own a set, he’d improvise with the aid of a couple of galvanized steel rubbish barrels.
Bill’s backyard became his bandstand as he beat out precocious rhythms atop the inverted barrels. The little Italian lady, who sat at her kitchen window, regarded Bill as a pet but voiced emphatic objections to his make-shift paraddidling on the barrels. So, when Bill’s father, who played trumpet, decided to retire his horn, the boy’s curiosity inevitably led him to the instrument and away from the barrel- house. The maturation process as a trumpeter had begun for Bill.
The ex-drummer put his horn to work for St. Ambrose’s Band, then for Boston English High, Berklee, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, and Woody Herman. The little old Italian lady was given special command performances in her kitchen and she almost lit a candle in thanksgiving for young Bill’s return to his barrels and rubbish deposits.”
He started playing his fathers old trumpet the summer before his junior year in high school and showed a natural aptitude for it. He soon joined a Drum and Bugle Corps, along with his school groups. This, was prior to his stint in the Boston National Guard where he said he wrote music and played trumpet in 1957. He served for six months in the guard band, which honed his talents as a trumpeter and arranger.
Source: Kevin Seeley
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