A word about...

Jerry Van Blair was one of the sweetest flugelhorn players ever. His soul really connected with that horn and you could hear it on the few songs he played it on during a concert. As a trumpet player he was a great foil for Bill on passionate funky compositions like BoChaWa. Incidentally that song got its name by combining Jerry's band name(BoReebie) with Cha(se)Wa(lly). He was, of course, a perfect model for the younger players in the trumpet section like Jay Sollenberger who followed him as the second soloist behind BC.   

When I joined the band in April 1973, I never will forget coming to the first rehearsal (which was being held in Studio A at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago) looking across that rather large room at the rest of the band, scared to death. Jerry gave me this loopy kinda grin that said "If you're here with us, you must be bad and if you're bad, That's good!" Well, it made me feel like I was in the company of a special gang of musicians. Jerry never made me 'prove' myself by making me come to him for advice or other ego games people play on that level, he was straightforward, fun loving, liked his privacy but also was ready to join (or create) fun at the drop of a (pick your object..he would've appreciated that..)

Those of you who have used this graphic on your websites, should read this article.

I wish I had met Jerry earlier in his life. By the time I knew him, it was rather apparent that he held a great sadness in his heart. But, like all great pros he never let it become an onstage problem but I often wished I'd had more life experience myself so I might have been a better listener. He certainly gave me a lot of support when I needed it and he always knew were the fun was in every town we played in!!

After playing with Bill throughout the roller coaster ride of the Chase phenomenon, Jerry was getting a little frayed around the edges, but his sage advice on road survival was gleaned from years of experience and it was always based on truth. I think the very best Jerry Van Blair stories are stored in the memory banks of members of the original band but the Jerry we knew during early days of the Pure Music band was a courageous, complex, sage who always gave 110 percent when he put that beautiful Yamaha trumpet to his mustachioed lips. We all loved you Bo, We love you Bill and now you guys can jam again, make sure you give Gabriel a few choruses!

I never knew Jerry's folks but if any of you who read this do, please refer them to these pages. Losing Jerry is a major blow to all of us because he was the only player who could speak of all three major periods of the Chase experience and that, my friends, is irreplaceable information. As a musician, I feel the loss, as a historian and journalist, I feel worse for not acting to document my friends experiences, as a human being I thank God for the time I got to spend with both Bill and Jerry. If you have a friend you haven't seen for a long time, do yourself a favor, call 'em and talk to 'em. Don't wait for a reason, do it because you still can.

Peace, out.



Downbeat Magazine June 6, 1974 *** Review of Pure Music