December-9th-2012, 03:06 AM
Free Reception in Celebration of Thomas Chapin's New 3CD Set
The public and fans of Connecticut jazz artist Thomas Chapin, who
passed away 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 7-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
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. Both Pavone and McEachern teach
at the Litchfield Jazz Camp and continue their careers in jazz. Chapin was a regular
visitor to Hartford’s 880 Club (now gone) while he was a student in the 70’s at the Hartt
School of Music in Hartford; he would often return there as a special guest artist after
moving to New York City’s jazz scene in the late 80’s.
“It’s right that we come to Hartford first to launch this rare CD-offering and make the
first public announcement about the film,” said Castillo-Chapin. “This was Thomas’
roots, and he loved returning to his family and fans here, to walk in the woods, to play
gigs, to reconnect with hometown musicians, and to speak with reporters and
broadcasters about his musical progress." Chapin passed away after a year’s bout with
leukemia on Feb. 13, 1998. He played his last concert, a medical benefit, at Cheney Hall
in Manchester, and died in a Rhode Island hospital 12 days later.
The planned documentary film will reveal Chapin, who was Lionel Hampton's musical
director for seven years, as a powerful musical force in the 80’s and 90’s ,in the
electrifying downtown music scene of New York City,” says filmmaker Castillo. “That’s
what my film will unfold, . . . and most central to the film’s story is that he was a bridge,
an ambassador unlike anyone else at the time in the jazz world.” In the film’s trailer,
music promoter John Phillips, then with impresario George Wein's Festival Productions,
explains: "There was a schism at the time between the traditional jazz community and the
avant garde, or the free improvisers. Thomas moved easily between these two worlds. He
might have been the first bridge between them.” Phillips is responsible for putting Chapin
and his trio on the big jazz stages of the world during the '90's.
The film trailer will be used to garner support for the film from foundations and grantors,
as well as to help launch a global fundraising campaign at kickstarter.com, an online site
that artists use to help fund their creative projects. To raise monies needed to start filming
the documentary, the Thomas Chapin film project will begin it's two-month Kickstarter
campaign on Feb. 13, 20132, the 15th anniversary of Chapin’s passing.
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. (See donation
Also on Dec. 11, the Castillo sisters will be interviewed at 10 a.m. by WWUH's Chuck
Obuchowski on his jazz radio program, which airs from 9 a.m. to noon.
While in Hartford, Castillo plans to connect with Connecticut arts and grant funders.
With help from local Connecticut grant writer, Marti Fischer, Castillo hopes to meet
potential funders and to show the trailer in hopes of winning support for the film project.
“I would expect that there will be sincere interest in helping this film project that lifts up
a native son of Connecticut as a model of hard-working achievement and excellence,”
says Castillo. “After all, Thomas Chapin with all of his Connecticut connections -- a
Mayflower descendent, Manchester schooled, an Andover graduate, a Hartt School of
Music student, is today in the jazz history books.”
Real Art Ways, co-hosts of this reception, embraced a chance for a "return" of Thomas
Chapin. “Thomas played here a number of times…. His last concert before he got sick
was a brilliant, sold-out show in our theater, and Real Art Ways co-sponsored the concert
at Cheney Hall. I was very fond of Thomas,” said Willis Wilkins, director of the live-arts