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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Dec 9, 2012

The public and fans of Connecticut jazz artist Thomas Chapin, who passed away far too early at age 40 in 1998, are invited to a free reception to celebrate the release of Never Let Me Go, a new 3-CD set of Chapin live-quartet performances from '95 and '96. The gathering will be hosted in person by Chapin’s widow Terri Castillo-Chapin from New York City and Emmy-winning filmmaker Stephanie J. Castillo from Hawaii at Hartford's Real Art Ways on Dec. 11 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A 15-minute trailer about Castillo's new documentary film-in-the-making, Night Bird Song: The Thomas Chapin Story, about the Manchester native's life and music, will also be shown. This is her tenth documentary. Castillo is a former Hawaii newspaper journalist who won her Emmy in 1992 for Simple Courage, which told about the plight of Hawaiian leprosy sufferers in the late 1800's and the intervention of Belgium priest Father Damien.

Chapin, an alto saxophonist and flute master, cut his teeth in Hartford and in Connecticut clubs with groups whose players were also native to Connecticut, including Mario Pavone, Chapin’s long-time collaborator and his bassist for Chapin’s trio for 10 years. Also playing with Chapin and Pavone was trombonist Peter McEachern, who today is music department chairman at the Salisbury School. He moved to New York City and after a time as Lionel Hampton‘s music director, became a fixture in the “Downtown Scene” of the avant-garde.

I spoke with Stephanie about her plans for the film, her progress so far, and how you can help bring to the screen the story of a great artist. Click here to listen to Podcast 324, featuring musical interludes including:

Thomas Chapin Quintet – “Goodbye” from You Don’t Know Me. The band’s recording showed how Chapin straddled the line between “uptown” straight ahead jazz and “downtown” avant-garde. Chapin plays sax, joined by Tom Harrell on trumpet, pianist Peter Madsen, bassist Kiyoto Fujiwara and drummer Reggie Nicholson.

Thomas Chapin Trio – “Bad Birdie" from Ride. The Chapin Trio recorded at the North Sea Jazz Festival in July 1995, featuring his long-time trio members Mario Pavone (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums).

Mario Pavone – “Old & New Dreams (For Dewey Redman)” from Toulon Days. Pavone, who was a veteran of Paul Bley’s trio before joining with Chapin, produced a number of cutting edge records as a leader, with Chapin at his side. The tune was written by Pavone, and features him on bass, Thomas Chapin (alto saxophone, flute), Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone), Steve Davis (trombone), Hotep Idris Galeta (piano), and Steve Johns (drums).

Thomas Chapin Quartet – “Sky Piece“ from Never Let Me Go.  The third disc of this new release captures the first and only concert ever played by a later quartet featuring Madsen, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Matt Wilson at The Knitting Factory on December 19th, 1996. For what turned out to be his final performance in New York, this ensemble presented extended readings of three new pieces written specifically for its all-star lineup.

Directions to Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street Hartford, CT 06106 are available at  To benefit the film, the new 3-CD set will be sold at the Real Art Ways reception, and any contributions toward the film will be welcomed and received as well.