Never Let Me Go: Quartets '95 & '96 (3 CD): Thomas Chapin
Thomas Chapin – saxophone & flute
Peter Madsen – piano
Kiyoto Fujiwara – bass
Reggie Nicholson – drums
Scott Colley – bass
Matt Wilson – drums

Unless you were there, this is Thomas Chapin like you've never heard him before.

In the mid-1990's, the innovative multi-instrumentalist and composer was at the peak of his powers and just beginning to explore both the harmonic possibilities of the quartet format (following several records with his acclaimed trio) and the potential of his growing international fame beyond New York's Downtown Jazz Scene. Sadly, he was also just a short time away from being diagnosed with the leukemia that would abruptly end his life at age 40 in early 1998.

Never Let Me Go: Quartets '95 & '96 thoughtfully chronicles the final chapter of Chapin's career with previously unavailable recordings from his family's private archive. Produced in cooperation with Akasha, Inc., this three-disc set documents two complete concerts: a November 1995 show with his working quartet from the early 90's (featuring Peter Madsen, Kiyoto Fujiwara and Reggie Nicholson) and his final New York performance in December 1996 with a brand new quartet (featuring Madsen, Scott Colley and Matt Wilson) that he hoped would take him into the future.

The music is presented in context with liner notes from veteran jazz journalist and broadcaster Brian Morton, exclusive archival photos and remembrances from the musicians who joined him for these shows.

Learn more about Akasha, Inc. and its ongoing efforts to preserve and advance Chapin's musical legacy at


CD #1 & #2 - Quartet 1995
Thomas Chapin - alto sax & flute
Peter Madsen - piano
Kiyoto Fujiwara - bass
Reggie Nicholson - drums

CD #3 - Quartet 1996
Thomas Chapin - alto sax & flute
Peter Madsen - piano
Scott Colley - bass
Matt Wilson - drums


CD #1
1. I've Got Your Number
2. Moonray
3. Opuwo
4. You Don't Know Me
5. Scratch Boogie

CD #2
1. Ugly Beauty
2. Red Cross
3. Wichita Lineman
4. Never Let Me Go
5. Spanky House

CD #3
1. Whirlygig
2. Big Maybe
3. Flip Side
4. Sky Piece
5. Lovellevellilloqui


Chapin's music exudes a warmth, generosity of spirit and an infectious joy of living. If you don't know his compositions, or haven't heard what he and his comrades can do to transform a tune or work a room, this set is an excellent place to dive in.
— Marc Medwin, Dusted Magazine
...a great opportunity to hear Thomas Chapin in a quartet which includes the very expressive pianist Peter Madsen and superb rhythm sections. Backed by these new combos, he explores new territory with a new determination and a ferocious appetite. The raspy and biting melodic line of the leader is always delivered with an urgency that makes one wonder if he knew he had little time left before leaving the earthly realm. He imposes on his partners an infernal pace to revitalize, with a positive aggressiveness and a free imagination.
— Paul Jaillet, Jazzman
All told, this is simply marvelous jazz music. Chapin's willingness to forge connections between the traditional and avant-garde jazz camps, and to explore the beauty within each, should earn him his distinctive place in the history of this music-and this release will certainly help him do that.
— Troy Dostert,
The music on these recordings characterizes the transformative powers of Thomas's playing. Simply put, it features some of his finest playing on record.
— Vernon Frazer, Altered Scale Press
As good as the first two discs are, disc three blows them out of the water. Recorded in December 1996, a few months before he became ill, he teams up with Madsen, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Matt Wilson, in a lineup Chapin envisioned as a supergroup that would help him reach a wider audience. He couldn't be more accurate.
— Mike Shanley, JazzTimes
An alto saxophonist and flutist of rangy intellect and great, gulping conviction, Thomas Chapin was probably on the brink of a breakthrough when leukemia killed him in 1998. He was 40 then, and revered within the downtown scene. But his music felt destined for wider circulation, if you trust the impression left by "Never Let Me Go: Quartets '95 and '96" (Playscape). The album, two concerts on three CDs, underscores Mr. Chapin's connection to jazz custom, even as it ratifies his claim as a vanguardist.
— Nate Chinen, New York Times
These tracks capture Chapin's talents in full bloom. The material is revealing. Chapin was translating the essence of his trio concept--Mr. Pavone described it as "structurally, big-band music for three players"--to quartet settings. Beyond sheer listening pleasure, Chapin's body of music signifies a liberating promise carried at a time when walls seemed to be hardening between jazz's mainstream and its avant-garde.
— Larry Blumenfeld, Wall Street Journal
Even on his most abstract expressionist canvases Chapin paints with a rich palette of searing sonic colors and slashing lines that Jackson Pollock might well have envied for their spiraling, spontaneous beauty...Chapin's imagination rollercoasters along, creating dizzying, surprise-filled excitement, extemporaneous poetry celebrating the existential ecstasy of the moment. It's the kind of natural high that the great Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, when describing his own jazz-inspired works, once called "the Coney Island of the mind, the circus of the soul." Although it's been hibernating in the archives for many years, the material sounds as fresh and alive as it did the day it was born, timeless art created by a never-to-be outdated artist.
— Owen McNally, Hartford Courant
Playing at the peak of his creative powers, his work on this box set should put to rest any remaining attempts to categorize him as mainstream or avant-garde. Those who followed his music knew he was both--and much more. Thomas didn't straddle two worlds; he embraced them as part of one vast spectrum of music. His intellectual and emotional capacity enabled him to to synthesize his broad musical vocabulary into a core expression appropriate to the musical moment. In addition to releasing excellent and unheard material from a voice gone too soon, Never Let Me Go underscores the brilliance of Thomas Chapin's work and reminds us that nobody in the past fourteen years has surpassed him.
— Vernon Frazer, Bellicose Warbling