Chuck Mangione

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Together Review

by Richard S. Ginell

A year after the Friends and Love breakout concert, Mangione returned with another, even more expansive venture, again recorded live with the Rochester Philharmonic and a large cast of soloists. But this time, the lightning-in-a-bottle quality of the Friends and Love concert was a lot more difficult to capture, partly due to thinner material and partly to the outgoing Mangione's desire to overreach and crowd as many of his friends as possible into the project. You don't even hear Mangione's fl├╝gelhorn until "Lullaby for Nancy Carol" well into side three, and he doesn't stretch out until side four, preferring to control his outsized forces and try, somehow, to make this mixture of rock, folk, Latin, gospel, easy listening, and film score orchestrations work for him again. Several of the tunes -- few of which hold one's attention -- are by Mangione's sidemen, with rock-styled vocals by Don Potter. Over 11 minutes are given to a rambling acoustic guitar solo by Stanley Watson; much of side three is unrelievedly sentimental, and the sound is audibly poorer than Mangione's other Mercury concerts, lacking in body. The concert finally catches some fire on side four in the lengthy "Sixty Miles Young" (rewritten as "70 Miles Young" a decade later), where we hear some straight-ahead bop from Chuck, fine tenor and flute from Gerry Niewood, a mildly grooving Latin section, and some heated, orchestral jazz-rock. An encore of "Hill Where the Lord Hides" ends the two LPs on a high note, but it took too long to get there.

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