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29 May 2017

Chase “Ennea” 1972 US Jazz Rock
















Chase “Ennea”  1972 US Jazz Rock
full

I was going to wait a bit longer to post this, but as some may have noticed if you visited yesterday my other post was deleted. Chase is a favorite of mine, and while their final album is undoubtedly my favorite, Ennea is much more like Pure Music than their first album. The Greek translation of "nine," Ennea is named for the nine members of Chase and the Greek Suite which would have originally been on one side of the LP. Ennea sees Bill Chase and his band breakaway from the norms of jazz-rock and move into a more original sound incorporating elements of funk and even Middle Eastern music. Addressing the music aside from the suite, "So Many People" is the standout track and was the single when the album was released in 1972. Unfortunately, it did not chart as well as expected, so Chase wasn't in the limelight as much as when his first album took off. "I Can Feel It" and "It Won't Be Long" are also memorable tracks that primarily feature G.G. Shinn, the vocalist of the band at the time, along with solo breaks reminding the listener how much command of the upper register Bill Chase had. "Swanee River" is a real oddity of a track. Apparently, Bill Chase was working on an original composition when G.G. Shinn noted that it had the same chord changes as "Swanee River," so the original tune was scrapped and this was the result. However, the real treasure of the album is definitely the suite. Part of the reason this album didn't sell well is because of the suite, because it isn't that accessible to the untrained listener. The Greek Suite is hands down the least commercial music Chase ever released. Even though there are vocals, it's pretty obvious from the opening cadenza of "Cronus" that the real focus is Bill Chase and the trumpet section. There are a variety of influences across the suite from rock, jazz, and even Middle Eastern music. In many parts of "Zeus" the track sounds more like an uptempo jazz chart than anything rock related. My personal favorite of the suite is "Aphrodite Part II" which is actually in a double harmonic scale (Bayati if you use the Middle Eastern name). Roughly, it is a major scale with lowered second and sixth degrees. Bill Chase was a critically well received arranger even before Chase when he was lead trumpet for Woody Herman, and it is the Greek suite which really exemplified this reputation. Unfortunately, it is probably one of the most skimmed-over part of his discography. I own the entire Chase discography on vinyl, and this album in particular makes me lament the end of the LP. It's not that I hate new formats, but the liner artwork in the album is particularly intriguing and it is the little things like that that you lose in the plastic cases they use today...................

Chase's second album was released in 1972, the title "Ennea" being the Greek word for nine, the number of members in the band. The recording of the album was not without its problems, with both the lead singer and the drummer being replaced along the way. After their trumpet dominated debut album, "Ennea" saw band leader Bill Chase attempting to dilute the emphasis on that instrument.

The brief single taken from the album "So many people" was included on the lavish CBS (Columbia) sampler "The music people". As such, it served for many people in the UK, including myself, as an introduction to Chase. The sound is of a BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS like brass filled rock song. Although it is very short, the track builds from a soft beginning to a wonderful cacophony of screaming brass, with powerful vocals (this was the only track on the album to feature Terry Richards on lead vocals) and a superb melody. An epic in under three minutes.

The album opens though with a bizarre jazz rock take on the old standard "Swanee river" with wailing trumpets and harsh rock vocal by GG Shin (the principal singer on the album). Any resemblance between this version and the downbeat original is fleeting indeed! "Night" sees the third lead vocalist in as many tracks, with trumpet player Ted Piercefield's David Clayton-Thomas excellent like voice raising the question "why did he not sing more"?

The remaining tracks on side one borrow heavily from the style of BS&T and CHICAGO, Bill Chase's trumpet never being far from centre stage. The strong melodies are enhanced by the superb musicianship on display, including some fine organ work by Phil Porter on "I can feel it".

The second side of the album is dedicated entirely to a side long suite whose theme is the Greek Gods and their associated planets. The first section "Cronus" has some fine lead guitar work by Angel South, the trumpet quartet pushing Shin's vocals to ever higher levels. Shin's vocal style is actually quite similar to that of ARTHUR BROWN, a point brought home through his excited performance on "Zeus". The gentler "Aphrodite", in two parts, offers a welcome lightening of the pace and sound, while acting as a counterpoint to the frantic closer "Hades".

"Ennea" is sadly a largely forgotten album by a largely forgotten band. Hopefully, Chase's addition to ProgArchives will help to redress that injustice, at least to some extent.

The sleeve has a picture of the nine band members lined up as a fine example of what not to do with facial hair. If that was not bad enough, we get a mirror image of the same picture on the reverse!...... by Easy Livin .............

When I heard for the first time (I think it was in 1981) "Woman of the Dark", I was so impressed with how rockin' the music is and how the brass rock music flows wonderfully from start to end. This song which made me explore further on the music of Chase. I found the self titled album and later I found "Pure Music".

The beauty of Chase music is on its composition, combining song writing, arrangement and structure. On song writing, Bill Chase focused on how brass (read: trumpets) instruments are being used to the fullest as music fills, solo and in fact rhythm section in some segments. Count the number of trumpet players in this album! There are four gentlemen: Bill Chase / Lead Trumpet, Ted Piercefield / Trumpet, vocals (Lead vocal on "Night"), Alan Ware / Trumpet, Jerry Blair / Trumpet. You can imagine how "noisy" the music with four trumpets which in most of the time play high register notes.On arrangement, the band focused the music delivery which revolves around a combination of jazz and classic rock. On structure, it's basically quite straightforward rock music but there are some curved lines as well - in some segments.

The best of best tracks this album has is "Woman of The Dark". It starts wonderfully with a blow of single trumpet solo in very high register notes. I believe Billl Chase played this part. It is then followed with cymbals and bass guitar. The music blasts off wonderfully when all trumpets blow high register notes and the vocal line in high register notes as well enters the music. The music moves in a rockin' mode where in some segments the four trumpets demonstrate their blows wonderfully. Bass guitar is also an interesting instrument to observe as the contribution is significant. The interlude comprises the demonstration of trumpet solo in intertwined fashion. It's really cool. Next is an epic "Ennea" which comprises four parts organized in each individual track: a) Cronus (Saturn) 4:46, b) Zeus (Jupiter) 4:36 c) Poseidon (Neptune) 2:27, d) Aphrodite Part I (Venus) 2:02, e) Aphrodite Part II (Venus) 3:36, f) Hades (Pluto) 3:34. The epic is also a wonderful one. My top one is the opening sequel "Cronus". Why I love this track so much? I think is more on the time signature and the timing when guitar solo takes its part - it's so precise and wonderfully composed! Oh man .. I cannot describe precisely in writing but for sure I can tell you exactly where the parts with great entrance. For example I can tell you the guitar entrance at minute 0:47 is really great! That's one example only. The music interlude featuring guitar solo is also stunning - with dynamic bass and trumpet fills. "Zeus" is also great especially when it's enjoyed seamlessly from previous track. The jazz elements sound much more clear in this track.

I tend to give this album a five star rating because of its wonderful composition and performance. Any band with brass instrument in jazz rock style must compare themselves with this album. The brass arrangement is really wonderful. 4.75 stars!!!! Keep on proggin' ..!............by Gatot ...........

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Chase / Lead Trumpet
- Ted Piercefield / Trumpet, vocals (Lead vocal on "Night")
- Alan Ware / Trumpet
- Jerry Blair / Trumpet
- Gary Smith / Drums
- Jay Burrid / Drums
- Dennis Johson / Bass
- Phil Porter / Keyboards
- Angel South / Guitar
- Terry Richards / Lead Vocals on "So many people"
- G.G. Shinn / Lead Vocals

Tracklist
A1 Swanee River 3:10
A2 So Many People 2:44
A3 Night 2:38
A4 It Won't Be Long 3:06
A5 I Can Feel It 2:51
A6 Woman Of The Dark 5:56
Ennea
B1 Chronos (Saturn) 4:46
B2 Zeus (Jupiter) 4:36
B3 Poseidon (Neptune) 2:27
B4 Aphrodite Part I (Venus) 2:02
B5 Aphrodite Part II (Venus) 3:36
B6 Hades (Pluto) 3:34

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..