Flugelhornist Chuck Mangione has become the undisputed miner and master of "feels so good" music, the kind one pays money for on an album but gets for free on an elevator. "Love Notes," the latest dollop of resistible melody and monotonous rhythm, is Mangione's first for Columbia, which may be wondering what the fuss is all about. The five cuts are uninspiring, metronomic exercises that leave little room for improvisation; it sounds like Mangione and his four backing musicians first read the charts as they cut the album; maybe the perfunctory tunes will spring to life in performance, but they are hermetically sealed this first time around.
"Steppin' Out" and "To the '80s" are bright and bouncy but devoid of emotional commitment; "Memories of Scirocco" is excruciatingly elegiac, Carmine Coppola nostalgia; a meandering "No Problem" has a big problem getting off the starting blocks and sounds like a TV soundtrack; "Love Note" is passably pretty, a lullaby that can easily put one to sleep. Five cuts, five basic misses. Mangione's bland, sweeping melodic lines, cool harmonies and mildly funky rhythms are saved less by his own proficiently expressive, clean-as-a-whistle flugelhorn than by Chris Vadala's lively and occasionally exuberant work on a variety of flutes and saxophones.
ON RECORD, ON STAGE
CHUCK MANGIONE -- Love Notes (Columbia FC38101).
CHUCK MANGIONE -- Thursday at 9 at the Wax Museum