VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
05 JUL 10 JONATHAN WIDRAN
While smooth jazz stations continue even in 2010 to play the heck out of flugelhorn great Chuck Mangione's career defining 1978 pop instrumental hit "Feels So Good," there was once a time when he and his pianist brother Gap were up and coming be-bop musicians in Rochester, New York -- an era celebrated on the still stirring Spring Fever.
Aside from providing jazz fans and historians an intimate look at a legend's origins, the set, which was credited upon its initial 1961 release to The Jazz Brothers, is a great representation of where hard bop was in the early-'60s. It was re-released in 1993. It's also a nice reminder of the power of sibling rivalry and chemistry, with the Mangiones riffing off each other on standards ("What's New?" "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise") and high energy bop originals ("Brooks' Brothers") with future Woody Herman star Sal Nistico on tenor.
Another key component of The Jazz Brothers' success was the powerful bass lines and compositions of Frank Pullara. Spring Fever was the third of a trio of albums recorded by the Jazz Brothers for Riverside Records. Chuck would, of course, go on to play with the big bands of Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the mid- to late-'60s. Through the '70s, he had a quartet that also featured the late Gerry Niewood on tenor and soprano. "Bellavia," recorded during this period, earned him his first Grammy and set the stage for pop superstardom.