Thomas Chapin

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Thomas Chapin (March 9, 1957 – February 13, 1998) was an American composer and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist. Though primarily an alto saxophonist, he also played soprano saxophone and various flutes.

Many of his recordings as a leader featured his trio with drummer Michael Sarin and bassist Mario Pavone, occasionally joined by guests.

Chapin studied with Jackie McLean and Paul Jeffrey. He played with Lionel Hampton.

Chapin died of leukemia three weeks before his 41st birthday. He last played two weeks before his death, at a benefit concert.

Biography[edit]

Alto saxophonist and flautist, Thomas Chapin was born on March 9, 1957 in Manchester, Connecticut. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he studied classical music and jazz. He began his serious studies in the late 1970s, attending the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, studying with saxophonist Jackie McLean.

In 1980 he graduated from Rutgers University where he studied with saxophonist Paul Jeffrey, pianist Kenny Barron and guitarist Ted Dunbar. From 1981 to 1986 he toured with the jazz grand master Lionel Hampton as lead saxophonist and musical director of the band. He also performed with Chico Hamilton's band from 1988 to 1989.

In the late 1980s he formed his own groups, of quartets, quintets, and a group and album devoted to Brazilian music, Spirits Rebellious (Alacra), as well as founding Machine Gun, a free-funk-free-jazz-rock band with guitarist/producer/engineer Robert Musso. But most notably, forming what became his signature group, a trio with bassist Mario Pavone and drummers Steve Johns and later, Michael Sarin. For nearly ten years Chapin pursued his own music, working with the Thomas Chapin Trio at festivals and clubs around the world, including a milestone career performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1995. He also arranged larger groups (Trio with Brass, "Insomnia" and Trio with Strings, "Haywire"). And he spent a good deal of his time working with the more important names in various factions of jazz. He performed with Ray Drummond, Anthony Braxton, Tom Harrell, Sonny Sharrock, John Zorn, Walter Thompson, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Ned Rothenberg and many more.

Over his career he recorded more than fifteen albums under his name alone, including Sky Piece and Night Bird Song, the last releases with his trio and several more straight-ahead albums, including with quartet/quintet groups in I've Got Your Number and You Don't Know Me on Arabesque Records.

Thomas Chapin died of leukemia in 1998 at age forty. The New York Times called him "one of the more exuberant saxophonists and bandleaders in jazz" and "one of the few musicians to exist in both the worlds of the 'downtown' experimentalist scene, and mainstream jazz." He is survived by his wife, Terri Castillo Chapin, whom he married on October 15, 1997 in New York Hospital while being treated. He died four months later.

Discography[edit]

As leader and co-leader[edit]

Musicians Album Label Date Format
George Alford, Peter McEachern, Phil Buettner, Nick Makros, Lucian Williams, Mario Pavone, Emmett Spencer, Matt Emerzian Bell of the Heart Alacra 1005 recorded and released 1981 LP
Ronnie Mathews, Ray Drummond, John Betsch et al. Radius MuWorks 1005; US recorded 1984, released 1990 CD, LP, CS
Machine Gun (Robert Musso/Thomas Chapin/John Lunar RIchey/Jair–Rohm Parker Wells/Bil Bryant) + Sonny Sharrock/Karl Berger Live at CBGB's Vol. 1 : June 2, 1987 MuWorks 37 CR; US released 2008 CD
Francesca Vanasco, Saul Rubin, Thad Wheeler, Geoffrey Gordon Spirits Rebellious Alacra 1017; US recorded and released 1988 LP
Motation (Mario Pavone, Michael Musillami, Thomas Chapin, Peter McEachern, George Sovak, Mike Duquette) Live at the Hillside Alacra 1014; US recorded 1988, released 1989 LP
Machine Gun + Sonny Sharrock Machine Gun Muworks 1001; US recorded and released 1988 CD, LP, CS
Machine Gun + Sonny Sharrock Live at the Gas Station : December 3rd 1988 MuWorks 46 CR; US released 2008 CD
Machine Gun + Sonny Sharrock Open Fire MuWorks 1003; US recorded and released 1989 CD, LP, CS
Machine Gun Live from the Court Tavern : February 24th 1990 + December 8th, 1990 MuWorks DR 03; US released 2008 DVD
Thomas Chapin Trio with Mario Pavone, Steve Johns Third Force KnitWorks 103; US recorded 1900–1991, released 1991 CD
Machine Gun Live From the Webo Art Space : September 22nd 199 MuWorks DR 01; US) released 2008 DVD
Thomas Chapin Trio with Mario Pavone/Steve Johns Anima KnitWorks 121 B; US recorded 1991, released 1992 CD, CS
Thomas Chapin & Borah Bergman Inversions MuWorks 1009; US recorded and released 1992 CD, CS
Machine Gun Pass the Ammo MuWorks 1011; US recorded and released 1992 CD, LP, CS
William Hooker Crossing Points NoBusiness LP 30/31; Lithuania recorded 1992, released 2011 2–LP set
William Hooker Crossing Points NoBusiness CD 28; Lithuania recorded 1992, released 2011 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin + Brass: Frank London, Curtis Fowlkes, Peter McEachern, Marcus Rojas, Al Bryant Insomnia KnitWorks 132; US recorded 1992, released 1993 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin Night Bird Song KnitWorks 240; US recorded 1992, released 1998 CD
Ronnie Mathews, Ray Drummond, Steve Johns I've Got Your Number Arabesque 110; US recorded and released 1993 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin + John Zorn, Vernon Frazer Menagerie Dreams KnitWorks 167; US recorded and released 1994 CD
Tom Harrell, Peter Madsen, Kiyoto Fujiwara, Reggie Nicholson You Don't Know Me Arabesque 115; US recorded 1994, released 1995 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin Ride: North Sea Jazz Festival 1995 Playscape 71595; US released 2006 CD
Peter Madsen, Kiyoto Fujiwara or Scott Colley, Reggie Nicholson or Matt Wilson Never Let Me Go: Quartets '95 & '96 Playscape 111095; US released 2012 3-CD set
Avantango (Pablo Aslan, Thomas Chapin, Ethan Iverson) Y en el 2000 tambien: Tango & Jazz Epsa 16020; Brazil recorded 1996 CD
Peggy Stern, Thomas Chapin Quartet with Drew Gress, Bobby Previte The Fuchsia Koch 7837; US recorded 1995, released 1997 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin + Strings: Mark Feldman, Boris Raskin, Kiyoto Fujiwara Haywire: Live at The Knitting Factory 1996 KnitWorks 176; US released 1996 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin Sky Piece KnitWorks 208; US recorded 1996, released 1998 CD
Borah Bergman Toronto 1997 Boxholder 033; US released 2003 CD
Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin or Steve Johns et al. Alive: Third Force/Anima/Insomnia/Menagerie Dreams/Haywire/Sky Piece/Night Bird Song/Live! On Tour: UC Davis 1992 KnitWorks 248; US released 1999. 8–CD Box Set

Note: Box set collects all seven previous Knitting Factory Works releases by Chapin Trio. The eighth disc, Live! On Tour UC Davis, only appeared in this box set

As sideman[edit]

  • Corina Bartra, Art Labriola, Santi Debriano, Steve Berrios, Fred Berrihill : Travel Log (Blue Spiral 81962; US) recorded circa 1988, released 1991 – CD
  • Michael Blake with David Tronzo, Steven Bernstein, Tony Scherr et al. : Kingdom of Champa (Intuition 3189; Germany) recorded 1996, released 1997 – CD
  • Anthony Braxton, Mario Pavone Quintet, Dave Douglas, Pheeroan akLaff : Seven Standards 1995 (KnitWorks 168; US) recorded and released 1995 – CD
  • John Carter with Bobby Bradford, Marty Ehrlich, Don Preston, Fred Hopkins, Andrew Cyrille, Frank London et al. : Shadows on a Wall: Roots & Folklore V (Gramavision 79422; US) recorded and released 1989 – CD, LP
  • Armen Donelian, Calvin Hill, Jeff Williams : Quartet Language: Live at Visiones 1992 (Playscape 50292; US) released 2003 – CD
  • Ray Drummond: Continuum (Arabesque 111; US) recorded and released 1994 – CD
  • Vernon Frazer, Mario Pavone, Joe Fonda : Sex Queen of the Berlin Turnpike (Woodcrest; US) released 1986? – LP
  • Vernon Frazer : Song of Baobab (VFCI 01; US) released 1997 – CD
  • Kiyoto Fujiwara, Kenny Garrett, Peter Madsen et al. :60 Miles High (TDK; Japan) released 1993 – CD
  • Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Alan Simon : Sentimental Journey (Atlantic; US) released 1986 – CD
  • Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra : One of a Kind (Glad Hamp; US) released 1989 – CD
  • Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra : Ambassador at Large (Glad Hamp 1024; US) recorded at Aurex Festival 1981, released 1990 – CD
  • Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra : Made in Japan (Glad Hamp 1023; US) released 1990 – CD
  • Lionel Hampton Big Band : Air Mail Special (1991) (ITM 920002; Germany) released 1991 – CD
  • Lionel Hampton Big Band with Paul Jeffrey, Thomas Chapin : The Lionel Hampton Big Band (West Wind 2404; Germany) recorded 1983 – CD
  • Andy Jaffe with Bill Lowe, John Clark, Peter McEachern, Michael Marcus et al. : An Imperfect Storm: The Large Ensemble Compositions of Andy Jaffe (MMC 2132; US) Chapin only on the six cuts by Bill Lowe–Andy Jaffe Repertory Big Band; recorded 1991–2002, released 2004 – CD

reissued as..

  • Andy Jaffe: An Imperfect Storm: The Large Ensemble Compositions of Andy Jaffe (Big Round 8907; US) released 2010 – CD
  • Misako Kano Quartet, Kiyoto Fujiwara, Matt Wilson : Watch Out (KnitWorks 219; US) recorded 1996; released 1998 – CD
  • Misako Kano Quartet, Ron McLure, Jeff Williams : Breakthrew (Jazz Focus 27; Canada) recorded 1996; released 1998 – CD
  • David Lahm Quartet : The Muscle Memory Hoedown (Generation 203; US) recorded 1990, released 1992 – CD
  • David Lahm with Randy Brecker, Mark Feldman, Skuli Sverrisson et al. : Jazz Takes on Joni Mitchell (Arkadia Jazz 71011; US) recorded 1993–1995, released 1998 – CD
  • Frank London, Matt Dariau, David Fiuczynski et al. : Scientist at Work (self released; US) released 1999 –CD

later revised with additional players (John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Jamie Saft, David Licht) added and issued as..

  • Frank London: Scientist at Work (Redux) (Tzadik 7167; US) released 2002 – CD
  • John McCracken & Outloud, Charles Baldwin, Abe Speller : Blood from a Tone (MuWorks 1010; US) recorded 1991, released 1992 – CD, LP, CS
  • Peter McEachern Quintet : Shockwave (PMC; US) recorded 1994, released 2011 – CD
  • Medeski Martin & Wood, Steven Bernstein et al. : Notes from the Underground (Hap–Jones 2921; US) recorded 1991, released 1992 – CD

reissued with bonus cut as..

  • Medeski Martin & Wood : Notes from the Underground (Accurate, 5010; US) released 2000 – CD

still later reissued as..

  • Medeski Martin & Wood : Notes from the Underground (Amulet 016; US) same bonus cut as above, released 2004 – CD
  • Michael Musillami, Kent Hewitt, Nat Reeves, Steve Johns : The Young Child (Stash 556; US) recorded 1990, released 1992 – CD

reissued retitled as..

  • Michael Musillami : Archives (Playscape 120990; US) re–released 2000 – CD
  • Michael Musillami, Randy Brecker, Ray Drummond, Kent Hewitt, Steve Johns : Glass Art (Evidence Music|Evidence]], 22060; US) recorded 1992, released 1993 – CD

reissued retitled as..

  • Michael Musillami: Mar's Bar (Playscape 120192; US) re–released 2000 – CD
  • Michael Musillami, Claudio Roditi, Kent Hewitt, Charles 'Chip' Jackson, Steve Johns : Groove Teacher (Playscape 120694; US) recorded 1994, released 1999 – CD
  • Robert Musso with Bill Laswell, Aiyb Dieng, Jonas Hellborg, Bernie Worrell et al. : Active Resonance (MuWorks 1008; US) recorded and released 1992 – CD, LP, CS
  • Mario Pavone, Marty Ehrlich, Pheeroan akLaff et al. : Sharpeville (Alacra 1012; US) recorded 1985, released 1989 – LP

reissued as:

  • Mario Pavone, Marty Ehrlich, Pheeroan akLaff et al. : Sharpeville (Playscape 90885; US) released 2000 – CD
  • Mario Pavone, Marty Ehrlich, Joshua Redman et al. : Toulon Days (New World 80420; US) recorded 1991, released 1992 – CD
  • Mario Pavone, Peter McEachern, Bill Ware, Peter Madsen, Steve Johns : Song For (Septet) (New World 80452; US) recorded and released 1993 – CD
  • Mario Pavone, Marty Ehrlich et al. : Dancers Tales (KnitWorks 205; US) recorded 1996, released 1997 – CD
  • Ned Rothenberg Double Band, Jerome Harris, Kermit Driscoll, Billy Martin, Adam Rudolph : Overlays Moers 2074; Germany) recorded and released 1991 – CD
  • Ned Rothenberg Double Band, Jerome Harris, Chris Wood, Billy Martin, Jim Black : Real and Imagined Time (Moers 3006; Germany) recorded 1993, released 1995 – CD
  • Ned Rothenberg Double Band, Jerome Harris, Tony Scherr, Michael Sarin, Samm Bennett : Parting (Moers 3012; Germany) recorded 1996, released 2004 – CD
  • The Rutgers U Livingston College Jazz Ensemble with Clifford Jordan, Thomas Chapin et al. : Music of the Masters (Rutgers University; US) recorded 1981 – LP
  • Daniel Schnyder, Michael Philip Mossman, John Clark, Dave Taylor, Jim Pugh, Andy McKee, Bobby Sanabria : Tarantula (Enja 9302; Germany) recorded 1996, released 1997 – CD
  • Alan Simon, Ernie Krivda, Pat O'Leary, Tom Melito et al. : The Present (Whispering Pines 120649; US) recorded 1986, released 2005 – CD
  • Walter Thompson Orchestra Featuring Dave Douglas, Herb Robertson, Joe Fonda, Frank London, Steve Swell, Steven Bernstein et al. : The Colonel: Compositions & Sound Paintings (Nine Winds 205; US) recorded 1995, released 1998 – CD
  • Under Cover Collection Band (Tom Cora, Samm Bennett, Burkhard Stangl, Max Nagl) : HorFest (Knitworks 165; US) recorded 1994, released 1995 – CD
  • Ken Valitsky, Michael Brandson, John Thompson, Vincent Tese : Species Compatibility (KnitWorks 135; US) recorded and released 1993 – CD
  • Vandoorn (Ineke van Doorn, Marc van Vugt) + Thomas Chapin: President for Life (VIA, PIAS; Belgium) released 1996 – CD
  • Tom Varner with Frank London, Steve Swell, Rich Rothenberg, Ed Jackson, Lindsey Horner, Phil Haynes : Long Night Big Day (New World 80410; US) recorded 1990, released 1991 – CD, CS
  • Axel Zwingenberger with Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet, Ricky Ford et al. : The Boogie Woogie Album (Vagabond 044675, 8.88008; Germany) recorded 1982, released 1992 – CD

As guest[edit]

Various artists[edit]

  • Aurex Jazz Festival '81 (V.A.) : All Star Jam Session (Eastworld 80208; Japan) released 1982 – LP
  • Real Estate (V.A. curated by Elliott Sharp) : New Music From New York (Ear–Rational 1015; Germany) recorded 1989, released 1990 – CD
  • Live at The Knitting Factory (V.A.) : Volume Three (KnitWorks 99/A&M 5299; US) Chapin Trio recorded 1989; released 1990 – CD
  • Live at The Knitting Factory (V.A.) : Volume Four (KnitWorks 100/A&M 5332; US) recorded and released 1990 – CD
  • Knitting Factory (V.A.) : What Is Jazz?: Festival Sampler 1991 (Knitworks 109; US) released 1991 – CD
  • Knitting Factory (V.A.) : Goes to Vassar: Live at the Villard Room and the Cafe (KnitWorks 121 A; US) two cuts taken from Third Force, released 1992 – CD
  • Knitting Factory (V.A) : Tours Europe 1991 (KnitWorks 105; US) Chapin Trio recorded 1991, released 1991 – CD
  • The Rainbow Colored Lotus (V.A.) : A Big Hand for Hanshin (Polydor; Japan) released 1995 – 2–CD set
  • Knitting Factory (V.A.) : What Is Jazz?: Live at Heineken Jazz Festival 1996 (Knitworks 195; US) Pavone sextet cut, and Chapin Trio cut, recorded and released 1996 – CD


  • (Discography compiled by Emanuel Maris)

Books[edit]

  • Thomas Chapin. Ten Compositions (sheet music book) (Peace Park Publishing/Akasha; US)

Documentaries[edit]

External links[edit]