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Gap Mangione

Gap Mangione


By Michelle Picardo
Freetime Magazine

Gap Mangione
Josh Music

The Mangione name means a lot here in Rochester. Hometown sons who have honored our city with their superb musical output through the last few decades, Chuck and Gap's talents are not just revered within the Rochester borders but far beyond. The pianist of the brothers, Gap Mangione performed with Chuck in The jazz Brothers in the early 60's, until he released his first solo album, "Diana In the Autumn," in 1968. To date, Gap has eight solo albums to his credit, including his latest, "Ardis," and appears on ten recordings with Chuck Mangione.

An artist who surrounds himself with greatness, not only has Gap maintained musical company with his brother, but has often crossed paths with top players like Larry Carlton, Steve Gadd and Tony Levin. Carlton (noted guitarist from The Crusaders, as well as his vast solo work) produced a couple early Gap records, as well as playing on them. While Gadd (a premier drummer most famous for his work with Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, The Gadd Gang, and more) and Levin (the distinctive bassist who has played with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel's Band, to name a few), were recorded for the first time on Gap's debut album, and have performed on many of his subsequent releases. All of these players reunite with Gap once again on many of the selections on his new effort, along with numerous other ace musicians who also lend a hand. Named for his daughter Ardis, this CD becomes even more special for the lively Ramón Santiago portrait of her that graces its cover; Gap dedicates the album to the recently departed artistic genius he calls "a wonderful friend" in the liner notes.

A pure instrumental recording, Gap's precise touch at the piano gives enough voice and personality throughout the sixteen tracks, seven of which are strictly solo piano. His spirited and lounge-styled jazz sound moves from sweet innocence to sharply sultry to just plain sexy, depending on the song. Originals like the swingy, "Jason" (named for his son) and the overtly happy "Our Wedding Day" shine among a timeless piece like The Beatles' "Yesterday," where Mangione, Levin and Gadd make the song all their own. This musical combination also lights up the melodic and moody "Legacy (Main Theme)," a Chuck Mangione composition. Gap plays it loose on the dancey "I Don't Know," which teeters on the edge of vintage disco, while the cover of The Zombies' "Time of the Season" includes the original "Sister Jo (Medley)", adding a nice touch to the jazz-rock version of this classic.

This collection presents a most harmonious excursion where instruments work in concert with each other. While Gap's illustrious piano work is the main attraction, his playing... sometimes understated, sometimes bold... is never overpowering of the other performers. Just one of the many characteristics that makes this pianist one of a kind, and continues the tradition of the Mangione magic.

Editor's Note: The Gap Mangione, New Blues Band performs most weekends at the Lodge at Woodcliff, including Friday, February 8th and February 15th.