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Alive Box set, Enhanced, Limited Edition

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Audio CD, Box set, Enhanced, November 30, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

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Listening to Thomas Chapin's seven trio CDs in the wake of his untimely death only drives home further the loss the jazz world suffered when he succumbed to cancer in 1998. Chapin's discography extends beyond the seven albums he and his trio released in the 1990s, but he never sounded more complete and rounded than when with his trio mates--bassist Mario Pavone and drummers Steve Johns and, for most sessions, Michael Sarin. Chapin's searing, rapid-fire solos and intricate melodies begged for a bassist that could match his stair-climb sprints and steep descents, and Pavone did so at all times. With Alive, you get the best tribute imaginable: a complete set of Chapin's Knitting Factory CDs along with a previously unreleased 1995 live session. From his trio debut, Anima, to the last studio album, Sky Piece, the band seems aimed at a group concept that's well defined and intensely creative. Chapin plays with a formal sense and tunefulness that owes tons to Sonny Rollins. Riffs build into minisolos, and rhythmic breaks become melodies, almost without the ear noticing. Chapin's group concept was expandable, too, which shows on Insomnia--with its five added brass players--and Haywire--with its three added string players. Where Insomnia milks the brass for thick funk, Haywire spins waltzes and string textures that emphasize a completely different realm of sonic nuance. The final CD of the set catches the trio live at the 1995 JVC-Newport Jazz Festival, and they play the complex tunes letter perfectly, with Sarin drumming especially hard and Chapin roughing up his tone far more than usual. At different times, he plays with the bittersweet bite of Eric Dolphy and the drive of Hank Crawford. He made it all an amazingly fluid continuum. --Andrew Bartlett


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 30, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set, Enhanced, Limited Edition
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Knitting Factory
  • ASIN: B00002EQ8T
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,372 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on May 10, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This set contains seven previous CD's from "Anima" to "Night Bird Song" plus a new release "Live! on Tour" . I already have two of them in my collection "Haywire" and "Skypiece". The two constants in this music are Mr Chapin on a variety of reeds (alto sax,flute,soprano sax, mezzo-soprano sax,sopranino sax) and Mr Mario Pavone on Bass. Another constant is the originality of the music, of which more than 90% are originals by Mr Chapin. I find the level of musicianship very high. The recording quality is start of the art. If you like music of now, where risks and passion and honesty prevail, then I would find it hard to pass up this outstanding release by the Knitting Factory. My impression is that Mr Chapin was a much loved and much respected artist. Although the trio of reeds, bass and drums predominate featuring the two fabulous drummers Mr Steve Johns and then Mr Michael Sarin, as well there is Mr John Zorn, Mr Vernon Frazer, Mr Curtis Fowlkes,Mr Mark Feldman, Mr Kiyoto Fujiwara, et al. In addition to the music, the packaging is exemplary with each disc holder featuring the repoduction of a different collage by Mr Chapin. The music is worth having at any price. . . One of my most satisfying purchases.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bookscdsdvdsandcoolstuff VINE VOICE on January 29, 2008
Format: Audio CD
As I type I am listening to my copy of this box set. When I first noticed how much used copies of this set were going for, I hesitated and thought seriously about parting with my copy. I am in the process of selling much of my jazz collection.

You will notice that my copy is not for sale. Why not?

The truth is that the late Thomas Chapin may well be one of my favorite alto players to listen to. He has fire, drive, and intensity that remind me of my teacher and all-time favorite alto player: Jackie McLean.

And like McLean, even at his most Avant Gaurde, Chapin is never a relativist. Much of the music in this set is VERY free, yet it is always engaging and, more often than not, beautiful. This is because Chapin remains rooted in the tradition. The only successful free players are those who remain rooted in the tradition; these are the players stretch the bounds of "orthodoxy" and grow the music without breaking it apart beyond recognition. We all know of free players who alienated the audience, and destroyed their own potential, by going to sophomoric and self-indulgent extremes. You won't find that here.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention his flute playing; it is gorgeous, fluid, and his use of extended techniques stretches the imagination. How did this guy get such mastery as to have such a large tonal palette on more than one instrument? What could he have achieved had leukemia not claimed him so young?

If you can afford it, you should shell out the cash to buy this set used. My copy is not for sale.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul E. Heroy on September 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Jazz seems to have produced more than its share of great artists who died far too soon, many regrettably from their own demons. Thomas Chapin's death from leukemia in 1998 is a tragic loss because it occurred just as he was hitting a creative high, and achieving some real recognition in the broad jazz community. This boxed set, Alive, collects all of his Knitting Factory recordings plus a live set from 1992 that is a posthumous release. Chapin was a rare combination of adventurous "out" player who also brings a more conventional or "inside" sound that has a broader appeal. His inspiration from Rahsaan Roland Kirk led him to playing multiple instruments (primarily alto sax and flute, with occasional other wind instruments). I was fortunate to see Chapin play a benefit concert in 1997, and his energy and creativity on stage were amazing. The live recordings in this set (discs 2, 3, 5, 8 and parts of disc 1) capture a lot of that spirit.

Though his working trio was the backbone of Chapin's output, there is some variety here too - the brass section on Insomnia (disc 3), John Zorn guesting on Menagerie Dreams (disc 4) and the string trio on Haywire (disc 5) are great additions.

This is a fantastic overview of a wonderful musician, and highly recommended. The single CD "Ride" is also a very good document of Chapin that can be ordered here or from Playscape records website.
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