This week, EMMY-winning U.S. filmmaker Stephanie J. Castillo ends her filming for her documentary Thomas Chapin, Night Bird Song
at the Bimhuis
's and Europe's jewel for jazz and improvisational music performances. Castillo concludes her four-country tour, which started in Paris, in Holland where her effort to gather the stories of Thomas Chapin in Europe have taken her to France, Italy, Germany and now the Netherlands. Some other 30-plus interviews for the project done in the last two years were shot in New York City
, Connecticut; and Phoenix
, Arizona. This is Castillo's third year of making this film; she plans to begin editing soon after her return to the U.S. in January.
A brilliant bandleader, composer and multiinstrumentalist known for his energetic and virtuosic playing of alto sax, flute and many other instruments, Thomas 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. His largest fan base was in Europe; the Thomas Chapin trio played big jazz festivals here with JVC Festival Productions and with the Knitting Factory Tours. The Knitting Factory in downtown New York is where Chapin launched his short but remarkable professional career. Interviewed at the Bimhuis will be Dutch musicians Ineke Vandoorn, Marc van Vugt, and Tony Overwater, all have played with Chapin in Holland; music promoters Marcel Kranendonk and Kees van Boven, who staged the trio in various festivals and venues in the Netherlands; and music writer Frank Van Herk who reviewed The Thomas Chapin Trio for the national Dutch press. The Thomas Chapin Trio played at the Bimhuis in 1994 as part of the Knitting Factory's Europe tours. Filming at the Bimhuis is courtesy of Artistic Director Huub van Riel. In interviews I did in Paris, Toulon, Milan, Darmstadt and now in Holland, it's been an amazing to hear how Thomas Chapin is remembered, and with such affection and with the highest regard still. In all of the interviews
I have done, not just here but also in the U.S., all those interviewed speak of a special quality Chapin had that people gravitated to, that had a spiritual, healing quality. It's been called the Thomas Chapin thing". Though he passed many years ago, the stories I have heard are strong and full of vivid memories that will undoubtedly enrich my film, says Castillo who has been on the road gathering these interviews here since Nov. 25 in Paris. Before that she based herself in England at a friend's home for almost three months to prepare for what she called The Europe Push".
I hired a very experienced cameraman from Amsterdam to travel with me by train in a ten-day push to get my interviews'" she says. Castillo raised $7, 500 for this tour in private appeals for help. The largest donor was Thomas Chapin's brother Ted Chapin and his partner Torrence Boone. It's all because they and the others who donated to the Europe Push really want to see this film made, says Castillo who earlier had success at Kickstarter, raising $51, 000-plus, to launch the project. Other successful fundraisers followed to keep her on a steady course for her production. Castillo and cameraman Igor Andreevski were hosted in every country by her friends and by fans of Chapin who she met online at her film's Facebook fan page. I couldn't have done this without the generosity of so many who opened their homes during these months of prep and travel. I am extremely grateful to the many family members, friends, musicians and fans who have shown their whole-hearted support for this project, says Castillo.
Stephanie is hosted in Holland by the Evert Oudenes family. The Bimhuis interviews this week will end major filming for Night Bird Song
. When her editing of the film is completed next fall, Castillo plans to showcase her finished work at film festivals and jazz festivals in the U.S. and Europe in hopes of exposing the film to TV distributors.