James William Chappell (born in Michigan in 1955), professionally known as Jim Chappell, is an American New Age and jazz pianist. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Chappell placed five albums in the Top Twenty of Billboard's Top New Age Albums chart, and placed another album in the Top Twenty of their Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.
Chappell's first album, Tender Ritual, was a collection of piano solos released in 1985 on his own Unspeakable Freedom label. In 1986, Chappell was signed with the newly formed Music West Records. That same year, Chappell released Dusk, another collection of piano solos. It would be the first of Chappell's albums to appear on a Billboard chart, peaking at No. 19 on its Top New Age Albums chart.
With his third album, Chappell's records started to include small-ensemble accompaniment and (on 1990s Saturday's Rhapsody) full orchestration. His three albums in this style—1989's Living in the Northern Summer, Saturday's Rhapsody, and 1991's Nightsongs and Lullabies—all appeared on the Billboard Top New Age Albums chart.
In 1992, Chappell switched to the Real Music label, where his music became more jazz-oriented. There were four such albums—In Search of the Magic (1992), Over the Top (1993), Manila Nights (1994) and The Earthsea Series, Volume 1 (1994). On the latter three, Chappell was backed by HearSay, a jazz quartet. The first of them, 1993's Over the Top, appeared on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. This album was also successful in the Philippines, enough such that Chappell booked a three-date concert hall tour of the islands in the summer of 1993 and sold out all of the shows.
Chappell's final album with Real Music was 1994's Laughter at Dawn. It saw Chappell returning to his original style of solo piano and was the last of his albums to appear on a Billboard chart.
Chappell moved to Gallery Records in 1996 and recorded one album there. He released nothing further until 2002, when he began releasing albums on his own Unspeakable Freedom label. None of them have appeared on any Billboard charts.
In his review of Chappell's Nightsongs and Lullabies, Jim Aikin noted that "Chappell's pastel piano meditations ... are the musical equivalent of airbrushed greeting-card watercolors of cute bunny rabbits and fawns." However, he went on to say that Chappell is "a consummate craftsman—a sensitive pianist and gifted melodist who knows some genuinely interesting chords."
In a review of one of Chappell's contemporary jazz albums, Jonathan Widran of AllMusic praised Over the Top for its "energetic live interaction" with fellow performers.
|Album||Year||Label||Catalog #||Chart Performance||Reference|
|US New Age||US Cont. Jazz|
|Tender Ritual||1985||Music West||MW-131||–||–||-||–||–|
|Living the Northern Summer||1989||Music West||MW-133||33||5||-||-|||
|Saturday's Rhapsody||1990||Music West||MW-134||23||10||-||-|||
|Nightsongs and Lullabies||1991||Music West||MW-135||17||7||-||-|||
|In Search of the Magic||1992||Real Music||RM-0136||–||–||–||-||–|
|Over the Top||1993||Real Music||RM-0137||-||-||19|||
|Manila Nights||1994||Real Music||RM-0138||–||–||–||–||-|
|The Earthsea Series, Volume 1||1994||Real Music||RM-1160||–||–||–||–||–|
|Laughter at Dawn||1994||Real Music||RM-0139||5||19||-||-|||
|Serenity Rush||2003||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Coming Through||2005||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Honey Wind||2007||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Sad Music Moods||2008||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Comfort Songs||2009||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Treasure At Seventeen||2009||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Into the Fresh Beyond||2012||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
|Something to Turn To||2014||Unspeakable Freedom||–||–||-||–||–|
When originally released on the Unspeakable Freedom label, Tender Ritual had catalog number RB-101.
Real Music re-released all five of the Music West albums. These re-releases have catalog numbers RM-0131 through RM-0135.
- Library of Congress registration number SRu000197013, dated November 5, 1990.
- Kassan, Brian (November 8, 1986). "New Label, New Approach" (PDF). Cash Box. 50 (21): 49. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
- Not to be confused with the early 2000s British pop group of a similar name.
- Keyboardist Jim Chappell Taps Into Brawn Power. Los Angeles Times, November 3, 1993.
- Home page of jimchappell.com Label information is found by clicking through to the listed vendors.
- Aikin, Jim, "In Review" Keyboard Volume 17, Number 7 (Issue #181) May 1991, page 17
- Widran, Jonathan. "Over the Top". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "New Age Albums (Jim Chappell)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "List of Awards (Jim Chappell)". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Scaruffi, Piero (1996). "Jim Chappell". Enciclopedia della musica New Age. Padua: Arcana. pp. 117–118. ISBN 978-8-879-66073-0. A discussion (in Italian) of Chappell's work through 1996.