Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Looking Forward To The Chuck Mangione Show In Lexington

I am looking forward to the Chuck Mangione show on November 3 at Lexington's Radisson Hotel. I am booked to play a one hour set onstage prior to his concert. It will be fun to meet him again during the sound check and backstage prior to the concert. I have been a Mangione fan for more than 30 years and am honored to have the opportunity of working this date.

I remember the first time I heard Mangione's music. It was in 1975 when my friend Raymond Lohr played the Bellavia album for me. Mangione's mellow flugelhorn and unique compositions were very appealing to my ear. The arrangements were different than any music I had heard before. I remember being impressed with Gerry Niewood (sax and flute) on that album. "Chase The Clouds Away" was also released about that time and it was equally good.

Later Mangione released "Feels So Good", his biggest selling album. His saxophonist then was the fabulous Chris Vadala. I worked out several of Vadala's hot licks and played them with our rock band "Main Street". We would play Mangione's "Feels So Good" and Herb Alpert's "Rise" as warmup tunes. Trumpeter Tom Schwartz played the Mangione and Alpert solos in the band and I'd try to sound as much like Vadala as I could.

In the late 70's it seemed that nearly all the marching bands and drum & bugle corps were playing Mangione's music. "Legend Of The One-Eyed Sailor" and "Land Of Make Believe" were favorites of marching band show innovators of that time.

I remember how impressed I was when I saw my jazz ensemble instructor Vince DiMartino's name listed in the credits of a Mangione album. Vince occasionally performed with Mangione when the music required a full horn section. Seeing Vince's name on the album gave him instant credibility in my eyes. I already knew Vince was really good, but now I knew he must be GREAT.

Just after the "Children Of Sanchez" album was released in 1978, I heard Mangione live. I went to Cincinnati to hear his band in a opera house/concert hall setting. Trumpeter Jeff Tyzik, whom I had met through Vince DiMartino, was in the horn section. Grant Geissman played incredible guitar that night and Charles Meeks sounded great on electric bass. James Bradley, Jr. played drums and played very cleanly and with lots of energy. It was a fine concert performed by an incredibly good group of musicians, but Chris Vadala was clearly my favorite player onstage. His tenor sound was blazing. Mangione sounded wonderful as well.

Yes, the 11/3/07 gig is one that I am really looking forward to working. I'll probably bring with me a Mangione album cover for him to sign. Maybe I'll bring the program from the Cincinnati concert that I have saved for all of these years. Or, I could bring the 5/8/75 or 3/23/78 Down Beat magazines that I saved that feature Mangione on the covers. I'll also have my trusty digital camera with me. And for sure, I'll bring my ears!


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