You might not recognize Chuck Mangione’s mega-hit "Feels So Good" by its title, but take a listen. Chances are you’ll recognize the timeless smooth jazz classic instantly. And then you’ll probably be humming it the rest of the day.
I am, anyway. Because this morning I was on hand when a very dapper Mangione, dressed in all black, signed away a cache of his musical memorabilia to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. A very soft-spoken Mangione told me this, "I tried to give items that represented certain significant times in my career." Included in the donation were his signature brown felt hat (above), scores to his most important works (including the Grammy-winning single "Feels So Good," "Bellavia," "Land of Make Believe," and "Hill Where the Lord Hides," among others), albums and photographs. He even offered an animation cell from "King of the Hill," the television series on which Mangione plays himself—"I'm Chuck Mangione, and saving money at Mega-Lo Mart Feels So Good!"
This donation launches the Smithsonian’s eighth annual Jazz Appreciation Month, and D.C.’s own rising jazz star Marcus Johnson was on hand to kick off the press conference with a tribute to Mangione.
Mangione, the jazz flugelhornist extraordinaire and king of that especially melodic style hinted that he wasn't through yet with the Smithsonian and that more might be coming. "They’re not getting a horn yet, but someday they will!"
Read a quick Q&A I did with Mangione after the jump
-- Posted by Jeff Campagna
Jeff Campagna: What does it mean to you to donate items and memorabilia of yours to the Smithsonian, especially during jazz appreciation month?
Chuck Mangione: I’m very honored to be included with the previous people who have donated. I walked through the hall and I saw Dizzy (Gillespie) and I saw Benny Goodman, and I saw Duke Ellington - those are some heavyweight people to be included with.
JC: How did you decide which items to give Smithsonian?
CM: I tried to give items that represented certain significant times in my career – they’re not getting a horn yet, but someday they will
JC: Would you rather be known for your composition and arranging skills or for your instrumental chops and tone of your playing?
CM: If you write a composition it will last forever. As a performer you go out there, you play night after night, and some nights you’re batting .400, and other nights you might not be that high. I enjoy both. I like the longevity, the Smithsonian-kind-of-feeling of writing a composition that people can remember and see, and then if it’s recorded, then all the better.
JC: You’ve got a reputation as being a very generous sharer of musical knowledge. Why do you feel this is very important, especially at this time?
CM: I think we’re going through a period of time in music where there are no real giants, no Zen masters of music, like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie. But there are a surprising number of young people who seem to somehow have found the music, and so I think it’s important to nurture them. In order to go forward they should be looking back and examining the greats that came along. Instrumental music is something that speaks to everybody. I’ve traveled the world, and nobody has any problem understanding what we’re doing and our music is as popular in Korea, Japan, and Poland as it is here.
JC: What’s the one thing you’d like an audience to take away from a live show of yours?
CM: I know they will be impressed by the individuals performing. But mostly they will go away with a warm feeling in their hearts, and perhaps remembering a melody. Melodic music was always something I loved and thrived on, and I think that’s what’s kept us around for such a long time.