Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chuck Mangione - An Evening of Magic: Live at The Hollywood Bowl (1979)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a 2 LP set, later replaced by CDs.

Recorded in Los Angeles, July 16, 1978.

At the peak of his popularity, Mangione (and A&M Records) wanted to cash in with a live album.  You can't blame them - how often can a jazz instrumentalist turn a such a profit?  His surprise single, Feels So Good, peaked at #4 on the pop charts just a month before this album was recorded.   4 of the 15 tracks come from the Feels So Good album - the astute Mangione was savvy enough to both open and close the concert with the hit single. Another 5 tracks come from the predecessor to Feels So Good, 1976's Main Squeeze album.  The rest of the concert explores his earlier catalog with the exception of the Main Theme to the soundtrack from the movie Children Of Sanchez that made up the dreaded "now we'd like to play something from our new album" part of the concert. The whole thing is Mangione's brand of instrumental white boy funk meets jazz/pop which, at the time, was right in the wheelhouse of this teenaged trumpet player trying to expand his musical horizons.  Not as good as the later 1980 live album Tarentella (which, to my knowledge, has yet to be reissued digitally in any format), it has kept me company often throughout the years (see memory below).

I'm glad the CD reissue included the original liner notes because they are unintentionally humorous.  The whole recap of the weekend concert is written in the same vainglorious style.  My take: "Conditions were against us!  Traffic in LA was too much!  The July heat was nearing 100 degress!  Code Red!  Situation: critical!  I don't know how we pulled off this miracle of a concert, but we did!  Indeed, it was an evening of magic."  Hilarious.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #27
Peak on the Billboard Jazz chart: #5
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #37

Tracks:  My favorites are Feels So Good and Land Of Make Believe.  I'm not much for the Children of Sanchez stuff.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  I love this album, if only for nostalgia's sake.  I got my album set from one of those Columbia House "12 for a Penny" promos and listened to it only rarely (who has time for a 2 LP set when you've got important high school stuff to do?).  However, in college, it became an important part of a routine that hasn't varied much since then. During my freshman year of college, I needed to write a paper for English class that was due on a Monday.  Respecting time-honored traditions, I waited until Sunday to get started.  For some reason, I selected this album to listen to as I wrote.  Everything went well; I made an A in the course.  From that point on, Monday due dates meant Sunday morning writing while listening to Mangione's Live At The Hollywood Bowl.  When I started grad school back in 1998, I found the recording on CD and began using it as background music while I wrote exciting papers along the lines of "The Effect of Calculator Use on Mathematics Achievement for Urban Elementary School Students."  Mozart called this 'musical wallpaper' as he would often compose music to be played in the background at royal social gatherings back in his day. To this day, this album is still my "go to" music when I need to hunker down and get some serious writing done.

Also, I had a good friend in high school named Missy that saw Chuck in concert around 1980 and brought me this pinback from the show:

Previously revisited for the blog:
Everything For Love (2000)
Feels So Good (1977)
Land Of Make Believe (1973)


  1. Wait, wait! Have I been wrong all these years loving to listen to the epic main theme from Children Of Sanchez? It's been one of my go-to stereo test tracks since Dad recieved it when he neglected to send in his Columbia House Selection Of The Month card. He never sent anything back - just paid for it and never listened to it. Can't say I've listened to any other tracks on the double album and now the double CD that sits in my collection.

    Are there other jazz-type songs with the quiet /loud dynamic range going on that you'd recommend?

    As for "musical wallpaper", I am succeptible to the much-maligned cafe lounge stuff. I have the Cafe Del Mar and Erotic Lounge series of discs - faceless, nameless Muzak I know but it is undistracting. Well, except for the latter series' Victoria's Secret-like covers. I have branched out to other downtempo, acid jazz and chillout artists like Down To The Bone - THANKS!

    When my daughter worked at The Cosmopolitan, I would spend hours walking around that place soaking in the music - most eclectic mix I have ever heard.

  2. I'm sure Children of Sanchez is fine for your testing, but back then it was a slap in the face to a young kid looking for a follow-up to Feels So Good. When you more of the same, soundtrack work usually disappoints (see also Joe Jackson's soundtrack for Tucker, and Thomas Dolby's score for Gothic).

  3. I'd throw in Bowie's contribution to Labyrinth - never got the appeal and I'm a Bowie fan.