Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Feels "Reasonably" Good
Gary Badger | Sydney AU | 07/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After reading other reviews (same release but entitled Live Palias des Festivals Hall Cannes 1989) I was in two minds about whether or not to purchase this offering, but took the plunge and picked it up anyway. I'm glad I did, I don't mind it, but it's clearly not Chuck at his very best.
Chuck's playing is OK. There are many similarities with lines he plays on his Live at the Village Gate CD, he takes a few lines down the octave, and at one point when he fluffs a line you see a brief look of frustration that (as a trumpet player) had me wondering if I was looking into the mirror.
Chuck's tone was good, and I didn't notice any serious distortion as referred to in other Amazon reviews. But I was surprised to see Chuck puff his cheeks at times, and even more surprised to see the mouthpiece indent on Chuck's lips. I didn't think that Chuck would have been a "strong arm" player, forcing the horn up to his lips and using pressure to get the higher notes. The mark on his lips was also very noticeable during the interviews, and given the relatively safe performance I wonder how it must have looked after his An Evening of Magic, Live at the Hollywood Bowl epic....
Chuck's band was very pedestrian. I'm sure they're all good players, but with no reed man it became boring when Chuck was not playing flugel. He really, really needed a reed player with him for duets, solos, and keeping everything interesting. When he put the horn down it got a little dull.
I cringed nearly every time the keyboard player was shown, be it on keys, guitar, or singing. There are no words to adequately describe how stupid his facial expressions looked, and my young daughter showed some great comedic timing when she faked a "flatulent noise" right when he looked like he was straining the most while singing Chase the Clouds Away.
The drummer was not an imaginative player, and certainly not of the ilk of a Steve Gadd or James Bradley Jr. In fact he looked bored for much of the time. The bass player was fair, did a reasonable job. The percussionist didn't impress me. He looked like he was using up time in his Hot Consuelo solo; there's only so long that you can listen to a solo played on rice-filled shakers. Finally the other guitarist was OK, but nobody is going to be able to capture the emotion of a Chase the Clouds Away acoustic guitar solo the way Grant Geissman was able to on the aforementioned Hollywood Bowl album.
When I think back to my one and only Chuck concert (1981, I was age 14) I remember a higher standard of musicianship amongst everybody in the Chuck Mangione Quartet, reflected on the Hollywood Bowl and Tarantella albums. I think a key difference is the use of synths / keyboards in this 1989 show, which seem to flatten the dynamics of the band and take away some of the spontaneity of the performance. Still, it's better than the use of synths and programming featured in the Columbia albums of the era (eg Disguise, Save Tonight for Me).
As for the DVD production itself there were very few shots or audio of the audience, which would have added to the live atmosphere. Could have done without the shot of Chuck coming off stage and lighting up a cigarette. Also the credits showed other musicians from other Cannes performances not appearing on the DVD, and when combined with the spelling mistakes (refer Leatherlips' Amazon review) it makes for a pretty amateur production.
I'm glad I got the DVD. It is worth having, and to Mangione fans I recommend adding it to your collection if you do not already have it. Chuck plays pretty well and "feels reasonably good". He's really missing Chris Vadala in there on reeds, and he could have recruited better band members for a more dynamic performance.
But despite my criticisms I can't take away from an entertaining performance. Four stars are well deserving.
That said, there must be a collection of performances such as Wolf Trap (previously aired on TV) which would make for better DVD releases."