Chuck Mangione

An Evening of Magic, Live at the Hollywood Bowl

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Recorded at the height of Chuck Mangione's fame when "Feels So Good" was still busting up the charts, this double-LP set attempts to recapture the dynamism of his earlier live albums but falls short on a few counts. For one thing, the sound gives the listener no idea of what it was like to be in the audience that evening; there are only fleeting traces of the live presence and electricity of the event in this tightly mic'ed recording. For another, the sense of fresh discovery of a new voice in the Mercury sets is replaced by a mostly self-congratulatory round of reprises from earlier albums, centered in the jazz-funk idiom of Mangione's then-current quintet (the funkified "Hill Where the Lord Hides" in particular lacks the majesty and tension of the original live version). Mangione and his sidemen (Chris Vadala, winds; Grant Geissman, guitars; Charles Meeks, bass; James Bradley, Jr., drums) are sufficiently pumped up and energetic, sometimes outdoing the studio performances of the material, and there is a 70-piece orchestra of L.A. musicians who mostly form part of the scenery. The only "new" stuff (as of July 1978) is a set of excerpts from the film score to Children of Sanchez -- a heavily truncated selection from what was heard that night -- that comes off pretty well. Of the two live Mangione A&M albums, this one is a more accurate career retrospective, but Tarantella is quirkier and thus more fun.

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