Picks and Pans Review: Tarantella

updated 06/15/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/15/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Chuck Mangione

Pretentiousness sometimes creeps into Mangione's music. This recorded-live double LP, however, avoids such excess even if the occasion was tempting: a Mangione-organized benefit held last December 27 in his hometown, Rochester, N.Y., for the victims of the 1980 earthquake in southern Italy. The musicians were special, among them Dizzy Gillespie and Chick Corea. And if they display the ragged edges that inevitably show up with impromptu all-star groups, the performers shine through with exhilarating verve and spontaneity. The album, highlights of an eight-hour concert, includes a subdued, delicate duet on the " standard ballad My One and Only Love, by Mangione on flugelhorn and Corea on acoustic piano. There's an inspired set by Gillespie that finishes with him and Mangione in a triple-tonguing horn chase on Dizzy and G.W. Fuller's Manteca. There's a touching rendition of Bellavia—the title is Mangione's mother's maiden name, and it was written for her as a Mother's Day gift. Steve Gadd supports most of the pieces with textbook ensemble drumming and is astonishingly musical in his solos on The XIth Commandment Suite, which Mangione composed for Gadd's graduation recital at Rochester's Eastman School of Music. There are also notable contributions by, among others, flutist Kathyryn Moses, Mangione's multireed man Chris Vadala and tenor saxist Sal Nistico. The concert was an exciting jazz event. So is this album.

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