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My guess would be that most of those who are reading this (if any are, that is) have heard of trumpeter Chuck Mangione. What some may not know is that Chuck has a piano-playing brother, Gap, and that Gap has his own thundering big band. While the notion hardly qualifies as a scientific survey, one may readily infer from the music presented on the band's initial release, Planet Gap, that at least 19 excessively happy people call that planet home. At least, they seem to be having loads of fun playing together. These musicians aren't keen to impress anyone; they'd much rather have a good time and let the chips fall as they may. But they're impressive in spite of themselves, scampering headlong through an eclectic program in which such well-known tunes as Monk's "Round Midnight," Bird's "Au Privave," Horace Silver's "Doodlin'" and Gerry Mulligan's "Bernie's Tune" rub shoulders with more offbeat themes including "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," Milton DeLugg's "Orange Colored Sky," Gap's warmhearted tribute to "Rochester, My Sweet Home" and his lively "Calypso for Janet." Completing the program are Ernie Wilkins' "Groovin' for Nat," Tim Torrance's "Coat Check Cathy" and two more compositions by Mangione, "My Favorite Dream" (featuring vocalist Cindy Miller) and "The Gap Theme," which ends the session on a high note. Gap wrote most of the charts, and is strong in that area too. The ensemble is impressive, as are its soloists, especially trumpeter Jarvis, tenor saxophonists LaBarbera and Weinzler, guitarist Schmitt and special guest Niewood (flute on "Bernie's Tune," baritone saxophone on "Doodlin'"). And of course, Gap is no slouch at the keyboards, soloing smartly on "Groovin' for Nat," Rochester," "Calypso," "Au Privave" (terrific chart) and "The Gap Theme." A sparkling debut, worthy of an immediate encore performance.
Track Listing: Take Me Out to the Ball Game; Groovin' for Nat; Bernie's Tune; Coat Check Cathy; My Favorite Dream; Rochester, My Sweet Home; Calypso for Janet; 'Round Midnight; Au Privave; Orange Colored Sky; Doodlin'; The Gap Theme (68:30).
Personnel: Gap Mangione, piano, keyboards; Steve Gadd, drums; John Patitucci, bass; Dan Schmitt, guitar; Dennis Tribuzzi, Jeff Jarvis, Herb Smith, trumpet, flugelhorn; Mark Kellogg, John Hasselback, trombone; Bob Kalwas, bass trombone; John Viavattine, alto sax; Andy Weinzler, tenor, soprano sax; Pat LaBarbera, tenor sax; Nancy Boone, baritone sax, with guests Gerry Niewood, flute, baritone sax; Cindy Miller, vocals; Geoff Smith, bass; Steve Curry, drums; Jim Saporito, congas, percussion.