Ride captures the legendary Thomas Chapin Trio live and in its prime. This never-before-available concert recording, featuring familiar Chapin originals as well as the trio's signature encore, The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," documents the group's set at the North Sea Jazz Festival on July 15th, 1995. As versed in mainstream jazz as he was in its experimental edges, Chapin created a diverse body of work with many notable collaborators, but his extensive work with trio members Mario Pavone (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums) is at the heart of his influential legacy.
Night Bird Song
Changes Two Tires
Ticket To Ride
Thomas Chapin - saxophones
Mario Pavone - bass
Steve Johns - drums
Copyright (c) – Playscape Recordings
Release date: 2006
Recorded at the North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague, Netherlands July 15, 1995
Thomas Chapin Trio's latest release Ride is among the best reviewed CDs in an already storied career. Below are a just a few of a huge volume of stellar reviews...
allaboutjazz - New York | January 2007 by Jeff Stockton
When leukemia claimed Thomas Chapin at the age of 40 in 1998, his mixture of the avant garde and the accessible placed him and his rhythm section at the verge of jazz stardom. Already a downtown NYC legend, Chapin was among the first artists to perform at the Knitting Factory and the first to be signed to the club's record label. By 1995, when his band performed in front of an enthusiastic North Sea Jazz Festival crowd, Chapin's core trio (completed by bassist Mario Pavone and drummer Michael Sarin) was at the height of its power.
This previously unreleased concert (in what amounts to a program of the trio's greatest hits) opens with Chapin's ferocious cadenza that introduces the 17-minute burner "Anima". The spiky and elusive "Pet Scorpion" follows hot on its heels and Chapin's tone on alto is like chocolate milk laced with strychnine. Chapin closes the concert on alto, as well, with tongue slaps and fairly straight ahead playing on the stop-and-start knotty interlockings of "Changes Two Tires." For the encore the band thrashes even harder on their version of "Ticket to Ride", a crowdpleaser that manages to revitalize the familiar melody,particularly when the band tears into the chorus. In between Chapin switches to his other main instrument, the flute, allowing him to indulge his more ethereal side with sweet evocations of nature on "Night Bird Song" and "Aeolus."
RIDE documents Chapin's wit, openness and warmth as reflected back by Pavone and Sarin who respond with emotional playing and virtuosic excellence. You get the sense that had Chapin lived, things would be different for everyone touched by this spiritually expansive artist.
allaboutjazz - New York | by Chris May
Whooooah! To keep up with saxophonist/flautist Thomas Chapin on this one, you're going to need some of those monkey adrenal glands Hunter S. Thompson wrote about, or at the very least a seat belt and a note from your mom. Ride-and if ever an album deserved an exclamation mark at the end of its title, this is one-is a 72-minute recording of a 1995 North Sea Jazz Festival performance of near-constant, broiling and searing emotional heat. It's magnificent, monumental and practically unprecedented. Chapin, who died tragically young in 1998, was his own man, but his music resonated loudly with the work of reed giants from an earlier age. Earl Bostic, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Eric Dolphy are the influences most commonly cited in this regard. Like their music, Chapin's is drenched in the blues, and his use of vocalisation (particularly on the flute) can be traced directly back to Delta pennywhistle musicians recorded by musicologist Alan Lomax in the '30s and '40s.
On this album, the two strongest inspirations are Bostic and Kirk-the former, of course, for his blues, but also for his no-limits technical facility. High-end harmonics and circular breathing were just two of Bostic's accomplishments. He played simple music, but with a technique that awed later, more structurally complex masters like John Coltrane, who worked with him through much of 1952. (In his definitive study John Coltrane: His Life And Music, published by the University Of Michigan Press in 1998, Lewis Porter includes a 150-word paean of praise by Benny Golson, which reads in part: "[Bostic was the] best technician I ever heard in my life! Charlie Parker couldn't touch him... He was from another planet.") Chapin had a big chunk of that facility down, and the soul and dirty funk to go with it.
The relevance of Kirk's fervent intensity to Chapin's music is perhaps even more obvious, made explicit by Chapin's moaning, voodoo flute cries. I was lucky enough to hear Kirk live on several occasions, and it was always a bacchanalian thrill, but I can't remember him ever playing flute as wild as Chapin does on "Aeolus" here. On alto or sopranino saxophone too, he brings a degree of visceral lyricism to his playing that Kirk only rarely captured on disc. One such occasion was as a featured sideman on Roy Haynes' 1962 Impulse! album Out Of The Afternoon. Chapin ramps up an even higher temperature on and off (mainly on) throughout this set.
Chris May edited Black Music & Jazz Review, and has written books on jazz, African and reggae musics.
Excerpts of reviews of Ride from 'round the world:
...one of the most impressive items in his discography. The opening 17-minute blast through "Anima" (the title track of his debut album) starts things at an impossibly high level: Chapin's unaccompanied alto introduction pays homage to Dolphy's "Tenderly" while pushing it to paint-peeling extremes, and once the tune's pummelling 7/4 groove kicks in he launches into a solo that's at once flawlessly constructed and yet nearly apocalyctic. Classic Chapin tunes like "Bad Birdie" and "Night Bird Song" receive focused and intense readings rivalling the original versions, and the disc also turns up two previsouly unknown items: the devastating "Pet Scorpion," and a thoroughly unexpected zoom through The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride." - Nate Dorward, Coda
His post-McLean alto scythes through the music, the duo of Pavone and Sarin completing a most elastic unit, capable of going in any direction at the drop of a hat whilst always remaining on the same page. Pavone describes Chapin's writing style as "big band music for trio", and the range of sounds and colours, not to mention the complexity of his scores, are testament to this. Essential listening. - Fred Grand, Jazz Review (UK)
Chapin is in top form, whether on searing alto, acidic sopranino, or flute overdrive where he channels the energy of Roland Kirk while ading his own muscular attack on the instrument. The three are always in lock step with the quirky time changes and snaking melodies and either drums or bass can flip to the front line to drive the music off in a new direction. This should serve to give Chapin's music some well deserved visibility and is a reminder as to what an exhilirating force he was. - Michael Rosenstein, Signal to Noise
In the summer of 1995 Chapin's acclaimed trio with Mario Pavone on bass and Michael Sarin on drums were in their prime and this CD called Ride, recorded at the North Sea Jazz Festival, really captures it all...I think this album is incredibly vibrant and really is a great testament to his work. - Jez Nelson, Jazz on 3 (BBC Radio 3)
I have to concur with the comments that this concert must have been one of the most spectacular displays of blowing to grace the North Sea or any other festival. 2005 brought us the lost Carnegie Hall concert of the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane-2006 brings us the Thomas Chapin Trio at the North Sea Jazz Festival. - Dennis Diener, WNHU-FM