If you’re under 30 years old, chances are you’ve never heard of Chuck Mangione.
Well, that’s sad – at least in my book…
First, I’ll tell you about Chuck.
Second, I’ll tell you why Chuck is sad.
And finally, I’ll tell you why I’m sad that Chuck is sad.
Chuck Mangione is an incredible jazz artist that had some pretty big mainstream success in the late 70’s and early 80’s, including compositions that were used as themes of the 1976 and 1980 Olympic games, and 2-time Grammy award winning composer.
His song “Feels So Good” is called the second most recognizable tune after The Beatles’ “Michelle”, and smooth jazz stations have named “Feels So Good” as their all-time number one song.
But Chuck is currently mourning.
Two members of his band were among those killed when Continental Airlines Flight 3407 crashed into a Buffalo, New York, area house on February 12, 2009. The members were identified as Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett. In a statement Mangione, said: “I’m in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy.”
Gerry had played with Chuck since the 1970’s, and was with him when he recorded “Bellavia”, the song that garnered Chuck his first Grammy.
Coleman, who was my age – 33 – had been with Chuck for nearly a decade, and was also married to Dizzy Gillespie’s daughter! How’s that for a jazz family!
Here’s why I’m sad.
Chuck and his music have been an integral part of my life.
“Feels So Good” was a hit right around the time I was able to really absorb music, about 5 years old. Dad played the cassette in the house all the time, and I even remember my Uncle Brian playing the 8 Track as I rode around with him in his red Celica.
To this day, that familiar, uplifting melody played by Chuck’s warm and haunting flugelhorn takes me back to a wonderful childhood in Southwestern Ontario.
I remember the sun beaming through the windows of our historic house on Elgin Street in St. Thomas, and drives in the Volkswagon to my Grandma’s house by the Thames River in Chatham. And yes, I can even remember the smell of that Celica’s black leather seats. Or maybe they were leather. I don’t know, but man, they smelled great!
And then – my first real concert: Chuck Mangione and the Toronto Symphony at The Molson Amphitheather at Ontario Place. Yeah, I was barely old enough to remember it – but I do!
When I was about 10 or 12, after a few years of piano lessons and a blossoming appreciation for music, I discovered my Dad’s double cassette recording of Chuck Mangione: Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Those recordings changed my life.
The latin rhythms mixed with jazz improvisation, completed with rich and complex orchestrations – they were like nothing I’d ever heard.
I played them over and over. Past the point of the ink being rubbed off, all the way to the point that they could no longer be read by the tape player ’cause I wore those puppies OUT!
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My journey with Chuck Mangione passed another monumental mile marker on October 10, 1997 at Nashville’s Cafe Milano.
My buddy was Marcus DePaula was the Front of House engineer and could get me into shows for free. I didn’t take advantage of that often – our group of friends would take turns bumming off of Marcus’ generosity, but when I heard Chuck was coming – I was there! I had it on the books for weeks…
And so, in the grand scheme of life, it now seems entirely proper that by the time the concert rolled around, I had gained the interest of a beautiful young woman – the woman who would become my wife.
Yep – our very first date was to see Chuck Mangione.
How entirely appropriate 🙂
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And so, I offer my condolences to Chuck and his musical family…