Jim Chappell

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James William Chappell (born in Michigan in 1955),[1] 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.

Recording history[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[6]

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.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Chappell has a brother named Gary Chappell. Gary Chappell worked as a manufacturer for Music West Records.[2]


Album Year Label Catalog # Chart Performance Reference
US New Age US Cont. Jazz
Weeks Peak Weeks Peak
Tender Ritual 1985 Music West MW-131 -
Dusk 1986 Music West MW-132 21 19 - - [8]
Living the Northern Summer 1989 Music West MW-133 33 5 - - [8]
Saturday's Rhapsody 1990 Music West MW-134 23 10 - - [8]
Nightsongs and Lullabies 1991 Music West MW-135 17 7 - - [8]
In Search of the Magic 1992 Real Music RM-0136 -
Over the Top 1993 Real Music RM-0137 - - 19 [9]
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 - - [8]
Acadia 1996 Gallery GR-1001
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 -
Rise 2009 Unspeakable Freedom -
Panorama 2010 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.


  1. ^ Library of Congress registration number SRu000197013, dated November 5, 1990.
  2. ^ a b Kassan, Brian (November 8, 1986). "New Label, New Approach" (PDF). Cash Box. 50 (21): 49. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Not to be confused with the early 2000s British pop group of a similar name.
  4. ^ Keyboardist Jim Chappell Taps Into Brawn Power. Los Angeles Times, November 3, 1993.
  5. ^ Home page of jimchappell.com Label information is found by clicking through to the listed vendors.
  6. ^ Aikin, Jim, "In Review" Keyboard Volume 17, Number 7 (Issue #181) May 1991, page 17
  7. ^ Widran, Jonathan. "Over the Top". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e "New Age Albums (Jim Chappell)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. ^ "List of Awards (Jim Chappell)". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]