JENNINGS: Special holiday treat's on the horizon

Photo by Thomas FlintGap Mangione & The New Big Band will perform a holiday concert at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda on Dec. 11.

Each week I peruse the music listings looking for a show to write about if a publicist or local artist has not reached out to me asking for coverage. This week I was scrolling the listings at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda and came across a listing for a holiday concert on Dec. 11.

Now I am sure the last thing people want to think about this time of year is the holiday season, but every holiday there are two things you can count on as it relates to the music industry, new Christmas- or holiday-themed recordings and Christmas-themed shows.

At first, I was more interested in the announcement that Dave Mason was coming to the Riv next March. Mason is a former member of Traffic, and Fleetwood Mac, and was an accomplished solo artist. Mason’s “We Just Disagree” is one of the most beautiful pop songs ever recorded in my opinion.

I was also checking the dates for Honeymoon Suite and John Waite so I could set them aside. I have seen Honeymoon Suite and Waite is on my bucket list.

Then I came across the smiling face of Gap Mangione and that Dec. 11 show billed as “Gap Mangione & The New Big Band – A Holiday Concert.”

Gap holds a special place in my heart, as I am sure he does for many people like me that grew up in Rochester. Gap and his brother Chuck Mangione are Rochester royalty. Chuck achieved national fame with the instrumental single in 1977 “Feels So Good,” and went on to have a prosperous recording and performing career. His brother Gap performed with him on many of his releases.

Chuck is a trumpet and flugelhorn and trumpet player, Gap is a pianist, and the pair has performed with some of the greatest names in rock music, including drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Tony Levin.

It’s been a long time since Chuck performed, but his older brother Gap, at 81 years old, is still out there and this holiday themed show looks like a special one.

The Rochester connection is only part of the reason for Gap’s special place in my heart, my first date with my wife was at a Gap Mangione performance in Rochester. I chose the show because of the name, and because I had some familiarity with Gap because I went to high school with his daughter Ardis.

That may not make you want to catch Gap’s show, but if you have never seen Gap or a big band show, you should consider setting aside the date on your calendar. It looks like it will hearken back to the days when big bands were common, and these days it’s just too expensive to bring along a massive band, unless you are a major recording artist.

There is something really special about a holiday concert and it’s even more special when you attend shows with someone close to your heart, like a spouse, parent or child.


Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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