Chuck Mangione

Land of Make Believe

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Though much less expansive than Mangione's other Mercury concerts (only 37 minutes on a single CD or LP), Land of Make Believe is the most successful of the lot, a winning combination of attractive tunes, big-thinking orchestrations, just enough jazz content, and a genuinely felt sense of idealism. Here there is no dead weight; all of the material is very engaging and the combined forces of Mangione's quartet and the Hamilton (Ontario) Philharmonic are on fire. The performance of Mangione's "Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor" still exerts a ferocious jolt of life-affirming energy, "El Gato Triste" is an attractive Latin number, and the buoyant "Gloria" from The Mass of St. Bernard with the Horsehead Chamber Singers makes one want to hear more. The childlike title tune has both a touching sense of naïveté and a lot of drive in key spots -- credit expert drummer Joe LaBarbera with the latter -- and Esther Satterfield's clear-eyed Nancy Wilson-like vocals made her famous for a time. This would be Mangione's most irresistible attempt at embracing the whole world of music -- and for awhile, it was possible to believe that he would become a major unifying figure in American music. Alas, thus far this would be the last full flowering of that promise.

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