Personnel varies from track to track
A&M 069 493 385-2
All tracks previously released
Chuck Mangione's massive success during the
second half of the 1970's - exemplified by the ubiquitousness of
his breezily melodic 1977 smash "Feels So Good" - was
a phenomenon with little historic precedent.
Mangione's status as a respected veteran has had
nearly two decades' worth of solid, often adventurous work under
his belt before he hit the singles charts.
"Being born in 1940, I came into the world
when jazz was the popular music of the day," Mangione
states. "So there was never any formula for me,
except to record music that I was having a good time
Growing up in Rochester, New York,
Chuck was exposed to the music early in life thanks to his
father, an avid music fan who would bring him and older brother
Gap (later a noted pianist and bandleader in his own right) to
local weekend jazz matinees. There, they were exposed to
some of the era's most influential players - many of whom would
end-up retreating to the Mangione household for spaghetti
"I thought every kid had Dizzy
Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan and Art Blakey coming to their
house," Chuck recalls, "because it happened on such a
regular basis at our place."
In 1958, while
attending the prestigious Eastman School of Music, he and Gap
recorded the first of three hard-bop oriented albums as the Jazz
Brothers. Four years later, Chuck released Recuerdo,
his first LP as leader.
It was at Eastman that
Chuck, who'd been playing trumpet and piano since childhood,
first picked up the flügelhorn, following the example of
trumpet genius Miles Davis, who'd been exploring the smoother,
softer-toned instrument in his seminal collaborations with Gil
Evans. Flügelhorn would eventually become Mangione's main
axe, but initially he didn't get much professional mileage out
of the instrument. "I fell in love with the sound and
the feel of the flügelhorn, but there just wasn't much call for
it at the time if you were a freelance player," he notes.
the mid-'60's, Chuck did stints with the influential big bands
of Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson, as well as Art Blakey's
Jazz Messengers. He was recommended for the latter gig by
Dizzy Gillespie, who reminded Blakey of the precocious kid he'd
met in Rochester.
Mangione struck out on his own
in 1968, forming a new Quartet (including esteemed saxophonist
Gerry Niewood) as a vehicle for the composing skills he'd been
honing since his teens. "I wanted to see if I could
fly on my own, and have a band to play the music I
composed," he explains, adding, "That's when it
started to take on a different direction."
five albums Mangione recorded for the Mercury label between 1970
and 1973 - beginning with the innovative Friends And Love...A
Chuck Mangione Concert, which found the artist conducting
the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra - stretched the boundaries
of contemporary jazz presentation, incorporating orchestras,
vocalists and extended multi-sectioned suites. During that
period, such distinctive numbers as "Hill Where The Lord
Hides" and "Land Of Make Believe" won Mangione
substantial FM airplay. The latter tune, featuring singer
Esther Satterfield, was particularly significant in winning
Mangione an avid cult following outside of the jazz scene.
it wasn't until he moved to A&M - a label co-founded by
another hitmaking horn player, Herb Alpert - in the mid-'70's
that Chuck Mangione became a full-fledged pop star. Albums
like Bellavia, Chase The Clouds Away and Main
Squeeze introduced a smoother, more concise approach,
setting the stage for the mainstream breakthrough on 1977's Feels
So Good. Its title track stormed the airwaves and has
remained an easy-listening anthem ever since.
Feels So Good, I went into the studio with a brand new
band and recorded six songs," Mangione recalls.
"I gave the tape to A&M, and I remember them telling me
it was a nice album but there weren't any singles on it.
Barry Korkin got 'Feels So Good' down from nine minutes to three
minutes and 27 seconds, and it took off from there and went
completely nuts. I think that we were in the right place
at the right time with 'Feels So Good.' The disco thing
had so saturated radio, and program directors were looking for
something else to play between Bee Gees songs."
new crossover success won him an entirely new audience beyond
the jazz community, and his new fans seemed to respond as much
to his ebullient personality and accessible presentation as they
did to the music. He cites old pal Dizzy Gillespie as a
role model in that regard.
"I had seen so
many jazz performers who'd get up on the bandstand and just
play," he says. "But Dizzy had a way of inviting
people in. He was playing some pretty complicated be bop,
but a whole lot of people were enjoying it because of the way he
presented it. There was a joy in his presentation and his
personality that made people more apt to want to enjoy what he
A sellout stand at the Hollywood
Bowl teamed Mangione and his combo with a 70-piece orchestra,
and the event was immortalized on An Evening Of Magic - Chuck
Mangione Live At The Hollywood Bowl. Its set list
spanned Mangione's career, including the rendition of "Hill
Where The Lord Hides" that appears on this collection.
than focusing on a "commercial" follow-up to
"Feels So Good," Mangione took on the task of creating
the soundtrack for director Hall Bartlett's 1978 film Children
Of Sanchez. "Once I had something that had sold
two million, everybody was looking for something that sounded
like 'Feels So Good'," Mangione recalls. "I went
in and recorded Children Of Sanchez, which was about as
much of a left turn as you could make. From an economic
point of view, it might not have been the wisest move, but I was
just following my musical instincts and trying to find the next
Mangione recorded three more
albums for A&M, 70 Miles Young, Fun And Games
and Tarantella, before moving to Columbia in the early
'80's. Although "Feels So Good" was his biggest
hit to date, he has continued to record and tour successfully,
maintaining a large and loyal audience that has stuck with him
through thick and thin. Meanwhile, his status as a
pop-culture icon is underlined by his recurring presence on the
animated TV sitcom King Of The Hill.
cartoon exploits aside, the four-and-a-half-decade survivor
prides himself on staying true to his musical instincts.
"When people ask me if I'm a pop musician or a jazz
musician," he says, "I just tell them that I play
Chuck Mangione music."
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