The Best of Chuck Mangione collects various tracks from the smooth jazz pioneer's '80s Columbia recordings. While not as influential as Mangione's '70s output, his '80s albums retain much of what made him so popular an artist – catchy hooks, lush production and his clear, crisp trumpet sound. Included are such standout tracks as "Journey to a Rainbow," "Love Bug Boogie" and "Memories of Scirocco." Oddly, a live version of "Land of Make Believe" and the single version of "Feels So Good" make it on to this collection. These '70s hits don't really belong here, but should satisfy casual fans looking for his most popular recordings alongside his mid-career stuff.
Chuck Mangione laid low throughout much of the '90s, perhaps the end result of a disappointing string of albums for Columbia during the '80s. He returned to the road in 1997 and evidently it was a positive experience, since he returned to the studio the following year to cut The Feeling's Back. For all intents and purposes, The Feeling's Back is a comeback album, finding Mangione returning to the smooth, melodic style of Feels So Good, but laying off the sappy pop tendencies that dogged his '80s efforts.
They called him "The Hat." Chuck Mangione, with his trademark black-felt, narrow-brimmed topper and his big, brassy fluegelhorn, burst out of the jazz world and into pop music in the late '70s with "Feels So Good," a monster hit and a rare example of a jazz tune hitting the top of the pop charts.
This LP by the Chuck Mangione Quartet was released in 1972 on Mercury Records, players are Chuck Mangione on flugelhorn, electric piano & cowbell, Gerry Niewood on flute, sax, tubo & guiro, Joel Di Bartolo on bass and Ron Davis on drums, congas & timbales.
Thanks to the Latin-inflected title track, Children of Sanchez became another huge hit for Chuck Mangione. The title song even earned him a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and serious jazz listeners will spot a problem with that award – it was for pop, not jazz. That, of course, is an accurate assessment of Mangione's music, since there isn't much improvisation on the album at all. Instead, there's a selection of Spanish- and Latin-flavored instrumentals, arranged as if to give the impression that the album is a song cycle. If so, it's a song cycle/concept album that doesn't go anywhere. Nevertheless, there's enough pleasant music here to satisfy fans of his pop stylings.
Chuck Mangione, the famed flugelhornist and trumpeter fills his first recording of the 21st century with some wonderfully subdued love songs whose subtle, intimate qualities may surprise those of his fans who best know his boisterous pop hits. More than simply expressing a romantic boy-girl kind of love, Mangione is playing gentle, atmospheric jazz for a wide variety of special people, real and animated. And there is no doubt that the truest love here is that between the artist and some of his old bandmates.
Armed with just his "Feels So Good" quintet and occasionally a couple of brass players, Mangione's more grandiose ambitions are pretty much behind him on his final A&M release. The emphasis is almost entirely on spinning pretty tunes for his new mass audience without alienating or challenging it much. Not that this collection is completely soporific or lacking the jazz touch; "Pina Colada" revives things with some uptempo flights for Mangione's flugelhorn and Chris Vadala's tenor, and the title cut is an amiably jumping, if repetitive funk workout for the quintet. The major push, however, went to "Give It All You Got" – another upbeat, optimistic, good-times motivating tool, heard extensively at the 1980 Winter Olympics – and Chuck gives it to us again at a listless tempo with the title, "Give It All You Got, But Slowly." As things transpired, this would be his last halfway decent studio album for at least the next decade.
This import version of Chuck Mangione's A&M hits collection contains three more tracks than its domestic counterpart, as well as his volume in the Universal 20th Century Masters collection. The bottom line when it comes to Mangione's music: his biggest period was in the '70s for A&M, when he had his monster hit "Feels So Good." That one has to be here, but so are other noteworthy (and very successful) singles such as "Land of Make Believe," "Chase the Clouds Away," and the overture for "Children of Sanchez."