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Blow your horn

April 24, 2022

Over at the Ragtag Daily Prompt the word for today is HORN.

The word “horn” to me is synonymous with “trumpet”. You’ve likely heard of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. If you’re into jazz then you may have also heard of Chet Baker, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie and Cat Anderson. One trumpet player you may not have heard of is Donald Byrd. I hadn’t heard of him until he released the single Walking in Rhythm in 1975 with a group he formed with student musicians at Howard University. I was living in Florida at the time and whenever I hear the song now I get a sweet Florida flashback. This song is still on my playlist today. Not because of a trumpet solo, because there isn’t one in the song, but because the groove is so cool. Here it is, go ahead and hum to the music.

Maynard Ferguson and Bill Chase. These two guys were like gods when I was young and playing the trumpet. They were our Michael Jordan or Serena Williams. They were who you pretended to be when school was done and you sent home to practice. I saw Maynard live once and I imagine I felt the same way a Bobby Soxer felt when seeing Frank Sinatra, or fans of Elvis or The Beatles felt when seeing them perform live.

Here’s Maynard driving his band through a cover of MacArthur Park.

And here’s Chase. I save him for last because despite how much I liked Maynard, I was really into Chase’s jazz/rock fusion more and his music did a lot to shape my musical interests to this day. In the Open up Wide video Bill Chase is the guy in the orange pants and chartreuse shirt and groovy sideburns playing all the solos. He’s more relaxed in the tan turtleneck in the Woman of the Night video, but he’s still playing the solos. Chase, along with the pilot, co-pilot and three band members died in a plane crash in 1974 on his way to a concert in southern Minnesota. Tribute bands celebrate the life and music of Chase today.

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