Back in the 1970s I was exploring all kinds of music and particularly the genre of jazz-rock. It was then that I came across a musician who I had not heard of, namely Chuck Mangione.
Chuck Mangione (Born November 29, 1940) is an American flugelhorn player and composer who achieved international success in 1978 with his jazz-pop single, “Feels So Good”.
Throughout the 1970s, he was a celebrity. His purposely lightweight music was melodic pop that was upbeat, optimistic and sometimes uplifting. Mangione’s records were big sellers yet few of his fans from the era knew that his original goal was to be a bebopper.
His father had often taken Chuck and his older brother Gap (a keyboardist) out to see jazz concerts and Dizzy Gillespie was a family friend. While Chuck studied at the Eastman School, the two Mangiones co-led a bop quintet called the Jazz Brothers that recorded several albums for Jazzland, often with Sal Nistico on tenor. Chuck Mangione played with the big bands of Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson (both in 1965) and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1965-67).
My first encounter with him would have been about 1972 when I bought his LP (yes folks those were the days of vynil only) “Land of Make Believe” and was blown away by the sheer melodic content of the album album. Whilst Mangiones flugel horn playing is excellent, it is the soprano sax playing of Gerry Niewood on the title track that is an absolute revelation.
There are a number of versions of “Land of Make Believe” including a 13 minute live in concert with a full orchestra and a vocalist. Whilst this is worth a listen, nothing can better the original quartet version which I have posted above.
Sit back and enjoy one of the great jazz recordings of the 1970s……………