Welcome to the Official Website for Thomas Chapin

A versatile multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and composer, in the 80s and 90s, Chapin led a trio performing his own music playing in New York City’s downtown scene, and at festivals and clubs around the world. An outstanding composer of larger works as well, he sometimes augmented the trio with strings and horn ensembles.

Though leukemia tragically ended his life in 1998 at age 40, Thomas Chapin left behind a legacy of many excellent albums and performances, and a reputation as one of jazz’s more extraordinary musicians and one of the few musicians to exist in both the worlds of the downtown, experimentalist scene and mainstream jazz. He continues to be a highly influential and inspirational force to those who knew him and to those who continue to know him through his music and example. ~~Scroll down for more news~~


Update for the Thomas Chapin Documentary

The time has come to raise funds for the completion of Emmy-winning filmmaker Stephanie Castillo’s Thomas Chapin, Night Bird Song.

Please visit the Donate page to learn more and make your pledge at this critical time.

Photo by Alex Lopez



On August 7 – 9, Litchfield Jazz Festival’s founder and director, Vita Muir, proudly celebrated the Fest’s 20th year anniversary of presenting great jazz in Connecticut. Congratulations, Vita and Litchfield Jazz Fest!


On Friday evening August 7, the Litchfield Jazz Orchestra kicked off the Fest with a 15-piece band tribute to Thomas Chapin. The music was led by Trio bassist Mario Pavone, trombonist Peter McEachern and trumpeter Dave Ballou, who adapted Thomas’ scores and conducted brilliantly! The music and musicians were phenomenal and the audience clapped, whistled and roared their approval of the rollicking, sometimes raucous tunes, which included Insomnia, Coup De’tat, Golgatham (from the Trio Plus Brass CD) and One Man Blues, Sky Piece and You Don’t Know Me. There is talk by Pavone and others to now take this big band music to Festivals, jazz and art houses around the world! “The music of this great, late-20th century American composer must be heard and known.”

EMMY-winning filmmaker and Thomas’ sister-in-law, Stephanie J. Castillo finally allowed a sneak peek of her work-in-progress. The Litchfield Festival’s jazz camp kids got the first look at a 55 min. cut of THOMAS CHAPIN, NIGHT BIRD SONG, slated to be two-hours when completed in December, 2015. A second sneak peek was at the jazz festival itself on Sat., August 8.

The complete final version (this was a 55-min version) will be released in year-end 2015. Castillo called her film, which may eventually be 2 hours long finally, “art for art’s sake”: A director’s cut that will tell the whole story, without dropping important segments due to time constraints. Talk was also it would tour the world with the big band performances of Thomas’ music, and be shown at art houses, museums, jazz stages, spaces and clubs, and later a pared-down version will go to PBS, HBO and other networks.

The planned film still needs $65,000 for its completion, slated for release in 2016. THOMAS CHAPIN, NGHT BIRD SONG has been funded in part by our Kickstarter backers, by friends and fans through their donations, and by the Queens Council on the Arts.

We invite you to share, blog, twitter about this important and exciting film about Thomas and the big band musical experience to friends, family and art institutions. Get the word out—Thomas lives! We love you Thomas!

CLICK HERE to give at www.thomaschapin.com/donate

Thomas Chapin was a pioneer in the evolution of jazz in the 80s and 90s. He was remarkable for his brilliance and exuberance as a multi-instrumentalist, band leader and composer. He joined Lionel Hampton as musical director at just 24 years of age and played that role for more than five years. He was one of the few artists whose music thrived in both the world of the New York City’s downtown, experimentalist scene and the uptown scene of mainstream jazz. The impact of his work is still felt among young people and the jazz community 17 years after his passing from leukemia three weeks before his 41st birthday.

Key people in the Litchfield Jazz Family had close personal and musical relationships with Thomas and it is these outstanding performers who have helped keep his music alive by continuing to record and perform it and to continue presenting Thomas Chapin and his music to the public in live settings.



Emmy-winning filmmaker Stephanie Castillo continues to raise funds needed for this important final editing phase with the goal to complete the film by end-of-the-year 2015. This Spring the film project was just awarded a small grant from the Queens Council on the Arts that will be used to screen the 45-minute version in Queens, NYC, where Thomas Chapin lived and composed.

DONATE! You’ll be helping with the critical final editing phase of the film. We’re nearing completion and soon the film will be ready to be shown in its entirety!

CLICK HERE to give at www.thomaschapin.com/donate

If you prefer to send a check or money order U.S., please make it out to “Akasha, Inc,” and send to:

Akasha Inc.
P.O. Box 721032
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

All donations are tax deductible and a tax receipt will be sent to you. Thank you!


EMMY-winning filmmaker Stephanie Castillo completed her film shoot in Europe on Dec. 7, hitting 4 countries: France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and 5 cities, which she called “The Euro Push Tour.” She was getting interviews of the all-important, other-half (Europe) of the Thomas Chapin Story for her documentary film, NIGHT BIRD SONG: The Thomas Chapin Story. Read about the tour in her press release: EURO PUSH



NEW CD: “Conversations about Thomas Chapin” CD by Stefano Leonardi Quartet (Italy) was release in July, 2014. Leonardi is a jazz flautist from Civezzano (Trento), Italy. Strongly influenced and inspired by the recordings of Thomas Chapin, he and his quartet never met Chapin, but felt Italy should know about him. On the CD are: Stefano Leonardi, flutes; Stefano Pastor, violin; Fridolin Blumer, bass; Heinz Geisser, percussion. Recorded in Milan, March 2013

“I got to know Thomas’ music through two cds: Third Force and Anima. The latter CD immediately stroked my mind with the freshness of its themes and the global sound of the band. The alto saxophone vibrato caught me and never left me and also the flute was extremely original…. It would have been fantastic to see him and know him in person. He has been among the greatest, fundamental to my musical growth,” says Leonardi.

Read CD reviews and All About Jazz review

Read Leonardi and Pastor’s personal stories of how they came to know Thomas and be inspired by him at: Leondardi and Pastor



In August 2014 filmmaker Stephanie J. Castillo took on Europe and is stationed near London indefinitely as she brings to the screen the important European connection of the Thomas Chapin Story. Thomas Chapin toured throughout Europe with his Trio under the auspices of Michael Dorf and his club, The Knitting Factory, with reknowned downtown saxophonist Ned Rothenberg’s Double Bank and also performed on the big world jazz stages with George Wein’s Festival Productions thanks to the enthusiastic and personal support of John Phillips, who later became President of Festival Productions and his then-assistant, Dan Melnick. There is still much to do and the momentum and impetus to make this film happen is carried forward by Stephanie and all the evident goodwill that Thomas Chapin left behind.

Please visit www.thomaschapinfilm.com.



A great evening at impresario and music promoter Michael Dorf’s jazz concert fundraiser to benefit the Thomas Chapin film at his City Winery restaurant/event space (155 Varick Street, NYC, 10013) on January 20, 2014. As many know, Dorf was the big giver at the film’s fundraising campaign at Kickstarter, backing it with $10,000. 100% of the proceeds from the concert fundraiser has gone toward the film!

The fundraiser headlined these world-class musicians and poets: John Zorn, Mario Pavone, Dave Douglas, Ned Rothenberg, Marty Ehrlich, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Matt Wilson, Michael Blake, Roy Nathanson, Bob Musso, Arthur Kell, Saul Rubin, Steve Dalachinsky, John Richey, Steve Bernstein, Marcus Rojas, Pablo Aslan, Peter McEachern, Jennifer Charles, Oren Bloedow and many more.

The proceeds from the City Winery fundraiser will allow filmmaker Stephanie Castillo to begin her 2nd film shoot of interviews in NYC in April, 2014.

See Stephanie’s short video clip of the City Winery performances and photos at:

City Winery video

Scott Friedlander’s FB page of photos:

City Winery photos


Filmmaker Stephane J. Castillo collaborated with a Hollywood film editor to give the new NIGHT BIRD SONG trailer a WOW! factor. In sneak previews, this 7-minute trailer flies by. It channels the Thomas Chapin story in an exciting time-capsule that is full of energy and archival footage that brings him to life. The new trailer captured several of the 20 summer-interviewees on high definition video during shoots in Connecticut and New York City. The trailer also includes some of the large inventory of archival performances during Chapin’s heyday in the 80’s and 90’s. The fundraising trailer is perfect for big arts and corporate fundraising—the next phase in the film project.

View the new trailer at http://youtu.be/0rS3Vuuzn8s



The Kickstarter.com global fund-raising initiative for a film about Thomas Chapin reached it’s goal of $50,000+ at 10:20 AM, EST on Saturday, March 30, 2013. Folks came through in the last days and hours leading up to the deadline. On Friday, March 29, NY impresario Michael Dorf, founder of the original Knitting Factory and City Winery, gave a significant pledge of $10,000 with a challenge to friends and fans of Thomas to come up with the rest (about $12,000) by the deadline. His big give sparked a flurry of activity through the day, into the night and in the last final hours the morning of Saturday, March 30.

At est. 10:30 am, the board showed $50,000; goal reached! Hurray! At the final deadline hour of 11:47 am EST, the board tally sounded: 224 Backers. $51,522 pledged of $50,000 goal. 0 minutes to go. HOME RUN!

Thanks to everyone who participated and gave. Thanks to Michael Dorf! And thanks to those who gave their heart presence! Thanks to the Chapin family who have supported the film at every level. Thanks to Emmy winning filmmaker-director of the film, Stephanie J. Castillo for her tireless, driving passion to get this film made. Night Bird Song: The Thomas Chapin Story will tell Thomas’ story to a world that needs to know about a jazz master who left us too soon – but whose music is forever!

With success at Kickstarter, Stephanie will begin filming this summer in Europe at jazz festivals where Thomas performed. She’ll create a professional trailer and take it to large foundations and grantors and get funding to finish filming, editing and marketing the film by 2015.



You can still give to support the filmmaking effort! You can give here at the website to Akasha, Inc., the non-profit created for Thomas Chapin’s legacy. All donations are fully tax deductible.
Donate at Thomas Chapin website by credit card via Paypal here:

CLICK HERE to give at www.thomaschapin.com/donate

If you prefer to send a check or money order U.S., please make it out to “Akasha, Inc,” and send to:

Akasha Inc.
P.O. Box 721032
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

All donations are tax-deductible. Thank you!

CLICK HERE to view the 7-min. film trailer www.thomaschapinfilm.com.


FOR UPDATES ON THE FILM PROGRESS and additional info about Emmy-winning film director Stephanie J. Castillo and Night Bird Song: The Thomas Chapin Story , please visit www.thomaschapinfilm.com.

Color photos for Kickstarter campaign © Enid Farber Photography.


Thomas Chapin Quartet 3-CD --NEVER LET ME GO (Playscape Recordings)

A rare, exciting and acclaimed Thomas Chapin Quartet 3-CD set was released in 2012. NEVER LET ME GO is a rare, late-career quartet sessions— ’95 Flushing Town Hall and ’96 Knitting Factory (both in NYC). The indefatigable saxophonist-flautist with “monster chops” pushes the limits as never before. See Press Release… SPECIAL: DONORS WHO GIVE $200 OR MORE CAN RECEIVE THE 3-CD SET, NEVER LET ME GO. Your gift will help continue the legacy of Thomas Chapin. You can give here at the website to Akasha, Inc., the non-profit created for Thomas Chapin’s legacy. All donations are presently earmarked for the Thomas Chapin film project and are fully tax deductible. CLICK HERE to give at www.thomaschapin.com/donate
If you prefer to send a check or money order U.S., please make it out to “Akasha, Inc,” and send to:
Akasha Inc.
P.O. Box 721032
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

The Thomas Chapin Story

The complete story of Thomas Chapin’s musical evolution – his schooling, his influences, as musical director with Lionel Hampton, his trio years & legacy. (by Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe) more…

Excusive Web Interview: Mario Pavone

“When I look at it now, every solo [Thomas] took was with the thought in mind that he might not be around to play another. Every solo was like two solos…. He was smart, well-informed, full of incredible energy, a virtuoso, experimenting and pushing the envelope all of the time, never letting up.” – Mario Pavone, master bassist & 18 years collaborator with Thomas Chapin. read more…