These "overlooked" posts are harder than I thought they'd be to write, and I don't even know if anyone really cares about them. Whatever ... they're helping me sort musical stuff out which is probably a good thing for me to do.
So, James Chance (sometimes known as James White of James White and the Blacks) was overlooked back in the late 70s and early 80s for one two-fold reason. James Chance sort of started the no wave/free funk style. This genre has been altered by many other bands and musicians (i.e. Sonic Youth, the Birthday Party, the Residents, Liquid Liquid, ESG, and Blonde Redhead, to name a few), however, Chance was the pioneer, and his style was the most free ... the most abstract. And frankly, no wave music gets old fast ... unfortunately, Chance got old just as quickly as his style.
But he should still be considered a great innovator. He was one of the few musicians in NYC in the late 70s who was interested in jazz and more avant-garde music. The music he created with the Contortions was very brash, absolutely, but its roots were from a different genre that many musicians were overlooking at the time ... not experimenting with. The super-producer, Brian Eno, recognized Chance's foresight in the pop music world, and got him to record four songs for the spectacular No New York compilation. After its release, Chance and his band quickly faded away. He did, however, create the even more puzzling outfit, James White and the Blacks, but that group died quickly as well. Chance recorded a few more records under the James White moniker, but eventually quit the biz in the mid-80s. There have been several re-releases of Chances' work, but none of them lasted too long. Even after Chance began playing live again in 2003, the once-great sax player has not been met with much enthusiasm or critical acclaim.
Another unfortunate story ... ah ...