Boston — It's no wonder Chuck Mangione "Feels So Good" (the title of his most famous song). In a recent telephone interview, the jazz/rock star declared vehemently, "I've been doing what I believe in since 1968!"
Flugelhornist/composer/arranger Mangione has been active musically for at least that long, playing what he calls "Mangione music," but his big break came with the soft-rock hit "Feels So Good," which Chuck believes helped to bring popular instrumental music to the ear of the general public.
"I do believe we [Mangione and his band] have made a great contribution to music, because now instrumental music is being accepted againg. People are tired of being spoon fed all the time, being told verbally, vocally what to think.
"Lyrics are important for a lot of music, because certain songs don't hold up as instrumentals. But people come to our concerts and hear two hours of instrumental music and go away thrilled. Then we play a song like "Feels So Good" or "Chase the Clouds Away" it allows people to come to their own conclusions about what it means to them."
Mangione has been criticized by some for "selling out to pop music," while others declare he plays great jazz. Says Mangione:
"I don't believel you can sell out to pop. You can't sit down and decide to be popular. I know how I got to where I am -- I recorded my tunes and handed them to the record company! There was no formula. Through us, people have become aware of the Dizzy Gillespies and the Chick Coreas. I admire the purists , but they shouldn't say somebody else is doing something wrong."
Mangione feels his roots are in jazz. He grew up when jazz was popular -- Harry James, Stan Kenton, Louis Armstrong -- "a lot of honkers," he says.So the jazz influence is definitely there, even though Chuck's music appeals to a "pop" audience. Mangione believes in presenting music that doesn't assaul the listener's ears with excessive volume, and that is "played in tune."
"The reason our music is more acceptable from a public point of view," claims Mangione, "is that the audience can be knocked out by a great soloist, but they also come away with a song -- it's the melodic content that makes our music great."
It's obvious that Mangione is committed to this music that he loves, and especially to the people who listen to it. In his private life, he describes himself as "just a basic B-flat person. I like to fish I love sports, I like to be with my family . . ."
This year he married graphic designer Junie Osaki, who has drawn his last five or six album covers, and has designed the cover for his latest album, "Tarantella." Chuck also has two children from his first marriage, who have traveled with him and had the opportunity to see how he works and meet the people he works with.
"If they ever decided to go into the music business," says daddy Mangione, "they'll have had the happy experience of being around it and seeing the amount of hours I put in at the studio."
And Chuck maintains that his personal experiences have helped him to develop musically:
"As you grow the music begins to reflect everything that has happened in your life. Having people love what youm love is a great way to recharge your batteries."
Chuck Mangione is on tour once again with a six-piece band, (Chris Vadala on saxes and flute, Charles Meeks on electric bass, James Bradley Jr. on drums, Grant Geissman on guitars, Chuck Flug on electric and acoustic pianos, and Mangione on flugelhorn) this time to Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., and across the Southern states. HE'll be at R adio City Music Hall in New York on May 2 and 3.