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(Published: August 04, 2013)

Thomas Chapin Film Project - August, 2013 -- Round one of filming for the Thomas Chapin film, NIGHT BIRD SONG, ended July 24 with 20 interviews in the can and footage from a July 8 Hartford, CT jazz concert performance by Chapin's bassist and close friend Mario Pavone and his Orange Double Tenor septet.

EMMY Award-winning filmmaker Stephanie J. Castillo's documentary about the music and memory of the late saxophone great as told by those who knew him best continues now with the editing of a new trailer and a 20-minute segment of the film that will be used to attract art and corporate funders and sponsors.

About the filming
"I can't wait to show some of our brilliant footage and interviews. This is the next step -- to show off what we're getting with the hope of attracting more funding to keep the momentum of the project going," says Castillo. NIGHT BIRD SONG is slated for a 2014-2015 finish.

Chapin's storytellers in the film are like a "band of brothers," she says, with everyone remembering him intimately, lovingly and sadly missing him still. Everyone I have interviewed so far was close to him -- friends, family, writers/critics who followed him, and the musicians who circled Chapin with an "intense allegiance," as one critic described those who played with him during his remarkable 20-year career.

"That's what the film will capture," says Castillo. "It will be an exploration of what these allegiances of friendship, music and love meant and how such dedication to Chapin lifted them and him. It's a love story about a beloved man, his incredible music, and the people with whom he forged unforgettable memories and formidable loyalties."

About Chapin
A brilliant bandleader, composer and multi-instrumentalist known for his energetic and virtuosic playing of alto sax, flute and many other instruments, Chapin died in 1998 after battling leukemia for a year just as he was gaining wider recognition for his original style and his natural ability to play to both straight-ahead jazz audiences and adventurous avant jazz fans. This quality of crossing over, rare in jazz during the 80's and 90's, was what made him a stand out in his day, not to mention his spirited, colorful persona and energetic presence that never failed to draw many to him on stage and off.

At the time of his illness, he and his Thomas Chapin Trio was already drawing the interest of major record labels with their SKYPIECE CD. Chapin felt sure this CD was perfect for solidifying the trio's entry into the jazz mainstream. "The plane was just gaining altitude" is how Chapin's bassist Mario Pavone speaks of the ironic convergence of illness and the expected success of SKYPIECE which critics today say could have catapulted Chapin and his music into a trajectory of greater fame.

More about the filming
The 20 interviews conducted for round one of her filmming took Castillo and her film crew to Hartford, Brooklyn and Manhattan. "I am very excited about what we got. It's really great stuff content-wise and cinematically," she says. She credits Director of Photography Hugh Walsh, a New Yorker, with the intimacy captured for the film and for the beautifully lit portraits.

Other interviews are pending for a round two of shooting. This round Castillo captured in the Hartford area Chapin's most intimate circle of players: Mario Pavone, pianist Peter Madsen, drummer Steve Johns and trombonist Peter McEachern. Most exceptional was the filming of Pavone's setpet rendition of Chapin's SKY PIECE, performed at a jazz concert at Bushnell Park in Hartford. The crew also visited the Litchfield Jazz Festival's jazz camp, where internationally recognized jazz artists teach alongside Connecticut musicians. Also interviewed in Hartford was WWUH 91.3 FM's Jazz Program Director Chuck Obuchowski, who interviewed Chapin many times during his hometown visits to Hartford.

After Hartford, Castillo and crew moved its filmming to Manhattan and Brooklyn and interviewed Chapin's brother Ted; Terri Castillo Chapin, wife and keeper of the Thomas Chapin legacy; the old Knitting Factory's founder, Michael Dorf; Bruce Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery; music writers Bob Blumenthal, Larry Blumenfeld and Gene Seymour; Chapin's close, longtime friend and bassist, Arthur Kell; other longtime friends guitarist Saul Rubin, woodwind master Ned Rothenberg, Thomas Chapin Trio drummer Michael Sarin, and jazz festival promoter Danny Melnick; Rutgers University jazz educator and bassist Larry Ridley; and Sam Kaufman, Chapin's manager.

The next step
"We've got great content to help us unfold the Thomas Chapin story, but will have to do a round two of filmming to complete the picture," says Castillo, who is now preparing to edit the new trailer.

"Although Thomas has been gone 15 years, he is in the jazz history books and his music clearly lives on today, keeping his spirit and his memory alive," she says. "Whether it's on the internet or on radio stations, in the acclaimed posthumous, new 3-CD release NEVER LET ME GO, or in music of others who play tribute to him in their recordings and performances, including new, younger next-generation players who've recently discovered Chapin, he's still around. "People are doing today what he was doing 15 years ago, but no one is doing it better than him," is the consensus of many of the film's interviewees.

"The film will help fill the music and memory gap for the world, because I truly believe his music remains timeless and his unique, unforgettable spirit is worth knowing," says the filmmaker.

Ongoing Fundraising for the Film
Castillo is at a critical juncture and continues to seek funding for the film to keep the project moving forward with more needed photography and editing. All donations and funding sponsorships are welcomed, big and small.

Tax-deductible donations are being received by Akasha Inc., a nonprofit organization furthering music education and the musical legacy of Thomas Chapin. Go to www.thomaschapin.com/donate to donate with a credit card.

Checks or U.S. money orders should be made out to "Akasha Inc."

Send to: Akasha Inc., P. O. Box 721032, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 USA

More Information: https://www.thomaschapinfilm.com

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