Thomas Chapin Trio

Sky Piece

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Recorded a little over a year and a half before his untimely death at 40, Sky Piece is arguably Thomas Chapin's best work and a fine example of both his instrumental facility and his strong musical conception. Nominally associated with the avant-garde, Chapin actually tends to be a relatively traditional and decidedly melodic player. The title piece here, with Chapin on bass flute, is a gorgeous, melancholy composition reminiscent of Norris Turney with Duke Ellington that few listeners could remain unaffected by. One is also reminded of the sound of Henry Threadgill and Air in both the deep melodic content as well as the liberties taken with it. On the album's best pieces, including "Night Bird Song" -- again with Chapin on flute as well as simultaneous alto and sopranino saxophones -- and "Changes 2 Tyres," one hears some of the best post-AACM trio work on record; nothing contained herein is less than solid. Bassist Mario Pavone, a stalwart of several Anthony Braxton ensembles, provides supple and imaginative support throughout. Sky Piece might be the best introduction to Chapin's music and will be enjoyed in general by admirers of the more traditional wing of the '70s avant-garde such as Arthur Blythe. Recommended.

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