You Don’t Know Me
Thomas Chapin Quintet
(1995) Arabesque Jazz
w/ Tom Harrell, Kiyoto Fujiwara, Peter Madsen and Reggie Nicholson
Kalamu ya Salaam - Jazziz, 1995
In the pocket, hard bop 'til you drop from sheer exhaustion. If these cats swing any harder they would have to be hanging from a gallows. The classic hard bop quintet features leader and composer Thomas Chapin on alto and flute, Tom Harrell on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Peter Madsen on bass, Kiyoto Fujiwara on acoustic bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums. The rhythm section is tight and bright. Nicholson is as unerringly on the one as Art Blakey with his steady sock cymbal, but also as unpredictable as a precocious Tony Williams playing polyrhythms on the entire drum kit. Bassist Fujiwara has a wonderful tone and is consistent in purveying probing and inventive bass lines which provide both harmonic diversity and a reliable pulse to undergird the music. Peter Madsen has a Cedar Walton-like gift for elegant intelligence in his playing. Brassman Harrell is the most retiring member of the quartet. His solos lack the bite and aggressiveness one would expect in such company; on the other hand, his ensemble work is hand in glove, right on the money. The big noise and good news is Thomas Chapin. After a stint with Chico Hamilton and six years as band director of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Chapin offers us an exciting update of the Cannonball Adderley school of ebullient and lyrical alto saxophone. The eight compositions include six originals plus "Goodbye" and "You Don't Know Me." Five of the originals were inspired by a trip to South Africa and reflect the rhythms, sonorities and harmonies of contemporary South African music. If you like mainstream jazz, skip some of the more highly publicized so-called young lions and check out this forward-looking offering from Thomas Chapin, who has paid his dues and is offering heartfelt and hard swinging, straightahead jazz.