Chuck Mangione, the famed flugelhornist and trumpeter fills his first recording of the 21st century with some wonderfully subdued love songs whose subtle, intimate qualities may surprise those of his fans who best know his boisterous pop hits. More than simply expressing a romantic boy-girl kind of love, Mangione is playing gentle, atmospheric jazz for a wide variety of special people, real and animated. And there is no doubt that the truest love here is that between the artist and some of his old bandmates; saxman Gerry Niewood played with Mangione from 1968 through the mid-'70s, while guitarist Grant Geissman (showing a rich, traditional jazz depth only hinted at on most of his smooth jazz efforts) and bassist Charles Meeks were there during Mangione's late '70s pop heyday. "Slo Ro," dedicated to Mangione's wife, is a moody reflection piece led by a drifting muted trumpet and the bluesy duality of Niewood's smoky tenor and Allen's keys. A seven-minute meditative version of "Amazing Grace" begins as a quiet, prayer-like duet between Mangione and Geissman, who switches partway through from the Wes sound to an electric rock axe for an edgy solo; then, Allen's organ solo takes this very spiritual rendition to church before Niewood chimes in with a sweet flute solo. Within each song, there are moments when Pellegrini's drums kick the softness up a few notches, and the peppery horn playing on "Fox Hunt" and the clapping percussion on the Latin-spiced "I Do Everything for Love" show a more playful side than Mangione displays elsewhere. Fans who know Mangione's whole career will see this as a fine addition to his jazz catalog; those who want more pop hits will be surprised at the low-key nature of the project.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran