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Chuck Mangione
"Feels So Good"

© A&M Records

Year of Release: 1977

track listing
  • Feels So Good
  • Maui-Maui
  • Theme From Side Street
  • Hide And Seek
  • Last Dance
  • The XIth Commandment

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    Chuck Mangione
    "Feels So Good"

    Has it been just over 20 years since Chuck Mangione's Feels So Good graced the musical airwaves? Long before what is now known as New Age Jazz or "Smooth Jazz", many jazz artists like Mangione, Pat Metheny and David Sanborn were featuring jazz in a much different style as the contempary jazz artists, like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and even different than big-band jazz.

    When Chuck Mangione's song Feels So Good hit the airwaves, it was the biggest song of its time. His instrumental tunes were featured in the Olympics, and many radio stations (including the radio studio at my high school) were using his tunes as background music for various commericals and advertisements.

    In listening to his 1977 album Feels So Good, I can't help but to listen to more of this kind of music. While listening to the local Smooth Jazz Chicago radio station (WNUA FM 95.5), what makes this album (and this type of music) is how they blend certain musical instruments. Two instruments in particular, one featured on Mangione's album, is the guitar (even though Mangione is famous as a trumpeter). The other is keyboards and/or synthesizers.

    While most people are familiar with Mangione's title track tune, it's total length is clocked in close to 10 minutes long, and quite frankly, it is very different than the standard short version we are all familiar with. It starts out very slow, and then kicks in with the beginning of what is known as the short version's instrumental guitar licks. There are also different solos (both on horn and guitar) throughout. One thing in discovering long versions of well-known songs is that you are just so used to the short versions, it catches you off guard everytime. (Remember hearing the long version of The Doors' Light My Fire for the first time?)

    As much as Mangione's featured trumpet (actually its the fluegelhorn) is heard on this album (and throughout his career), his instrumentation with the guitar is simply phenoemenal. Even the song Maui-Waui received some radio airplay, as I remembered hearing it for this review (or did I hear it as one of those commercial backgrounds way back when?) In either case, this song too, is just as great as the title track.

    Theme From Side Street blends horns with guitar. They relate to the Spanish Horns than any particular kind. Hide and Seek (Ready Or Not Here I Come) is very jazzy and upbeat.

    Last Dance defines the true meaning of Smooth Jazz: It's very romantic in sound, and is very relaxing. Somehow romantic tunes like these can only be focused on the horn as the main key instrument. Even the brisk guitar touches are simply magnificent.

    The XIth Commandment (that's the number 11 for those who don't know) is very Olympic sounding. Yet it is moody, it changes tempo towards the end, and is a song that sets the pace for the Olympic Games (which a lot of his music was featured, in later years).

    The titles says it all: Feels So Good is how you will feel after listening to this album. Mostly all of the songs are quite long (the average is over eight minutes, the shortest just over two), somehow I still want to hear more. And it also makes me want to explore other smooth jazz artists and their styles. What I didn't know was that this kind of jazz was around since the late 1970s. This type of music became more popular towards the end of the 1980s. Jazz wasn't as popular as rock and/or pop music, until it became recognized, also in the late Eighties. This music is very well accepted today, from its jazzy upbeat tunes (like Hide and Seek, to the smooth arrangements in songs like Feels So Good and Last Dance, jazz has created another Chapter in the book of popular music, right next to Rock 'n' Roll, Country, Pop, Alertnative, and far more categories of music. And that Chapter is Smooth Jazz.

    Somewhere, on one of those many Smooth Jazz radio stations, Chuck Mangione's music is playing. We haven't heard much of him in the main spotlight of popular music recently, because obviously, today's popular music is now being dominated by hip-hop, rap and alternative. But somewhere in the jazz section, many people are discovering or re-discovering Chuck Mangione's music. Feels So Good put him on the map as a promising jazz artist, and opened the doors, like his fellow counterparts, to explore the music of jazz into it's next featured category: New Age Jazz. Explore for yourself -- It's great to listen to, it's relaxing and romantic. New Age / Smooth Jazz is in, and will be here for a long time.

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    Roxy Music--Avalon
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