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Chuck Mangione, who all but disappeared from the radar screens after his enormously successful run of best-selling albums in the mid- to late-'70s, says "the feeling's back" and, if we are to judge from his even-tempered debut for Chesky Records, so is Chuck, who seems to be playing his dulcet flugel as well as ever.
He's always had a well-developed ear for beguiling melodies, and that too seems as keen as ever. While one may question the music's Jazz content, none can doubt its loveliness or charm. The downside is that much of the date is rather dreamy and atmospheric, as if everyone were reaching for another crossover chart-buster such as "Land of Make Believe," "Chase the Clouds Away," "Feels So Good" or "Hill Where the Lord Hides." In that respect, there are several noteworthy candidates including "Consuelo's Love Theme," "Leonardo's Lady," "Aldovio" and "Once Upon a Love Time," each of which appears to have been written by Mangione with that purpose in mind. Equally lovely are the relatively more familiar "Mountain Flight" by Toninho Horta; Jobim's "Fotografia"; Luis Bonfá's "Manhã de Carnaval," and Edith Piaf's mega-hit from the '50s, "La Vie en Rose." There are only two songs designed to stir one's blood and quicken the pulse rate, Dori Caymmi's "Maracangalha" and Mario Adnet/Carlos Sandroni's "Quase," and even they simmer more than cook.
Also, this is Chuck's show all the way, with the flugel commanding the spotlight and everyone else remanded to the chorus. Nothing wrong with that (it is his gig), but one should be aware that Mangione isn't playing much Jazz these days; the session is long on melody but short on improvisation. If you heard any of Chuck's well-received albums of a generation ago, you'll pretty much know what to expect.
The Feeling's Back is in many ways a throwback. Whether it can recapture the special magic of the '70s remains to be seen.
Track Listing: Mountain Flight; Consuelo's Love Theme; Leonardo's Lady; Fotografia; Quase; Aldovio; Once Upon a Love Time; Manh
Personnel: Chuck Mangione, flugelhorn; Cliff Korman, piano, keyboards; Jay Azzolina, guitar; Paulo Braga, drums; Caf