21 February 2007


Gap Mangione's first album from 1968-a pretty good effort for a guy who went on to record some of the most tedious fusion of all time(not that he was alone in that !).
I picked it up on the strength of the track "Boys with Toys" (which was sampled by Slum Village-I believe some other tracks have been put thru the hip hop regurgitator too) but the rest of it's well worth a listen taking styles of jazz from 60s soundtracks and working them into a electrified context.

Many who listen to this recording for the first time will be hearing a new sound. Knowledgeable Rochesterians who are devotees of modern American music, however, will be hearing in a new setting a blend of familiar sounds – the vibrant, driving music of the Gap Mangione Trio coupled with the sensitive composition and superb orchestration of his brother, Chuck Mangione.
Individually and together, Gap and Chuck Mangione have been making their mark on both the local and national music scenes for many years, despite the fact that they are both young men. After having developed an enthusiastic following in upstate New York, their jointly-led sextet "The Jazz Brothers" was introduced nationally on Riverside Records in 1960 with the prediction that it represented ". . . an incredibly mature and richly talented unit that seems destined to make a long, deep and wide impact on the jazz world." The present recording demonstrates yet another proof of the validity of that prophecy.
For five years from the date of that recording, the Jazz Brothers continued to perform both locally and on tour, their schedule coordinated with that imposed upon Gap and Chuck by musical studies at Syracuse University and Eastman School of Music in Rochester respectively. Their formal studies behind them by the spring of 1965, the brothers embarked independently in new directions, which for Chuck included playing with and writing for some of the foremost jazz groups in the country, and for Gap meant the forming of a unique trio consisting of piano with bass and conga drums.
Gap‘s aim in structuring the sound and style of his trio was to create a group, universal in appeal, whose material, be it old familiar tunes or the latest hits, bears the unmistakable stamp of the Mangione sound. The commercial viability of the trio‘s ubiquitous appeal was seen at once by two long-time followers of Gap‘s talents who were contemplating adding a music-oriented supper club to their chain of very successful restaurants. "The Other Side of the Tracks" has emerged as both Rochester s most successful east side night spot and an ideal showcase for the Gap Mangione Trio.
The present recording demonstrates convincingly the several facets of the Mangione style. Intermixed are tracks demonstrating the same happy, swinging trio sounds which delight patrons and fans nightly at the Tracks; pieces showcasing Gap‘s keyboard style in almost symphonic settings composed and scored by Chuck Mangione; and several trio-plus-big-band flag wavers undoubtedly included to prove the point that "to swing is fun."
The trio features as supporting artists Tony Levin, a young (21) bassist from Brookline, Massachusetts whose superb playing on both acoustic and electric bass has been the harmonic mainstay of the trio for the past year, and Steve Gadd, a young (23) drummer from Rochester whose playing has brought him not only an enthusiastic crowd of fans in upstate New York but also favorable notice and offers of employment from several very respected names on the national scene. The reasons for this are amply evidenced on this recording. Featuring Gap on not only piano but also electric piano, the selections are typical of the carefully crafted "head" arrangements, the pop-rock influence, and most important the unity and precision of execution which have given Gap and the trio the reputation they enjoy with fans of all ages.
The five tracks composed and arranged by Chuck Mangione almost defy categorization. They represent an amalgam of seemingly disparate elements – rock, big band jazz, solo improvisation, and "classical" music – compounded into what can only be termed modern American music. In this recording, the Gap Mangione Trio is joined by fifteen fine musicians under the baton of Chuck Mangione. It is these tracks particularly which should prove real eye-openers to those unfamiliar either with what is happening in modern jazz music today or with the tremendous talents of Chuck Mangione.
Three of the remaining tracks are excellent examples of the excitement which can be generated when a swinging trio and a great band get together. Whether dancing, finger-popping, or just listening be your forte, it is appropriate here.
The final selection – St. Thomas – deserves special mention, as it is a showcase for the "fourth" member of the Gap Mangione Trio, conga drummer Dhui Mandingo. Having been a featured performer with the Trio since 1965, Dhui‘s African-based and jazz-and-latin-influenced style have amazed and impressed many listeners in solo performances such as that recorded here. The "regular" drummer on this track is Joe LaBarbera who returned to Rochester from a road tour just as this recording was made, to take over the drum chair in the Trio from the service-bound Steve Gadd.
This recording thus provides a good cross-section of Gap Mangione‘s piano style in several settings. The tunes may be old or new but the music is young – modern American music at its finest.

– Barry Cummings, 1968

Gap Mangione, piano, electric piano, organ
Tony Levin, bass, electric bass
Steve Gadd, drums
Dhui Mandingo, conga drums (No. 6 only)
Joe LaBarbera, drums (No. 6 only)
No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 Add the following:
Chuck Mangione, Conductor; Snooky Young, trumpet, flugelhorn; Marv Stamm, trumpet, flugelhorn; Clark Terry, trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Andre, trombone; Tony Studd, trombone; Paul Faulise, bass trombone; James Buffington, french horn; Earl Chapin, french horn; Jerome Richardson, soprano, alto, baritone saxes, flute; Joe Farrell, tenor sax, flute; Frank Wess, tenor sax, flute; Ned Corman, baritone sax, flute, bass clarinet; Ray Beckenstien, flute, piccolo; Sam Brown, guitar; Mike Manieri, vibes.
This made a cd reissue in 2003 which may have now been deleted.


Patricia said...

I doubt many have heard this . I knew of it and was curious, so thanks for posting it .
The record starts pretty well ( first three tracks ) but then becomes pretty trite . The big bands of Gerald Wilson and Buddy Rich played contemporary pop tunes with more freshness than the somewhat trite treatments here .

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