Written by Grant Jackson from NPR
Flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione is widely known for the crossover success of his catchy mid-1970s tunes. But his jazz credentials are rock-solid: His mentor Dizzy Gillespie once recommended him for a spot in Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers. Mangione and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi team up with host Marian McPartland for some dynamic trio work in a session from 1999, including his famous tune “Feels So Good” and a few beloved standards.
Mangione was born in Rochester, N.Y., on Nov. 29, 1940, to Italian parents. His parents were avid jazz fans who often invited jazz stars over to dinner in the Mangione home; their guests included Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. As a child, Mangione started music lessons on the piano and switched instruments after seeing the movie Young Man With a Horn.
Chuck Mangione’s first musical success came with his brother, Gap, as the Jazz Brothers while still attending the Eastman School of Music. At the time, Art Blakey was looking for a trumpeter to fill an open spot in his Jazz Messengers. He asked Gillespie to recommend someone, and Gillespie asked if he remembered Mangione from Rochester. Blakey did, and Mangione left to join the Jazz Messengers. He’s always loved his hometown, though, and composed both “Rochester, My Sweet Home” and “The Boys From Rochester” for the city’s 150th anniversary. In later years, Mangione returned to Eastman, where he served as director of the jazz ensemble and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music.
Mangione won his first Grammy for the 1976 album Bellavia, followed by another Grammy and a 1978 Golden Globe nomination for the Children of Sanchez soundtrack. He continued to record and tour extensively throughout the 1980s, taking a hiatus from music in 1989. Following Gillespie’s death in 1994, Mangione picked up his horn once more, with concert and album dates that continue to the present day. In recent years, new audiences have been introduced to Mangione as a regular guest character (playing himself) on the animated TV series King of the Hill. Mangione appeared in several episodes, including the 2009 series finale.
Of his great talent for writing memorable melodies, Mangione says, “To do it always right, that is what music is to me.” On Piano Jazz, Marian McPartland and Chuck Mangione team up to get his hit tune, “Feels So Good,” just right.
Originally recorded on Nov. 16, 1999.