Jazz musician Chuck Mangione plays Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Jazz musician Chuck Mangione plays Beaver Creek

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Jazz musician Chuck Mangione’s concert in Beaver Creek Friday night will honor two members of his band who died in a plane crash.

Saxophonist Gerry Niewood and guitarist Coleman Mellett were passengers on Continental Airlines Flight 3407 when it crashed into a house in Clarence, N.Y., on Feb. 12. The musicians were on their way to Buffalo to perform with Mangione and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Mangione’s concert at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Friday marks the first time the remaining band members have performed since the crash.

“It was the next show on our calendar and we decided to get back on the horse rather than stall it,” Mangione’s personal manager Richard Burkhart said. “This would be a way for us to get the family back together and unite on behalf of the guys.”

Mangione was not doing interviews with media as of press time, Burkhart said. However, a statement on Mangione’s Web site offers some insight into how he has been coping with the loss.

“I’m in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy of the crash of Flight 3407, which took the lives of my dear friends and band members Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett,” Mangione wrote. “I am grieving and praying with their families and friends. That’s all I can say for now.”

Originally from Rochester, NY, Mangione, 68, rose to international fame in the late 1970s with his jazz-pop single, “Feels so Good.” He won Grammy awards for “Bellavia” in 1976 and “The Children of Sanchez” in 1978. Mangione is best known for playing the flugelhorn, a brass instrument similar to a trumpet but with a wider, conical bore. He also plays the trumpet and piano. He is currently working on a musical based on his hit 1973 recording “Land of Make Believe,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart said he did not know which songs Mangione intended to play at the memorial concert. Mangione had been friends with Niewood, 64, since they were grade school classmates in Rochester, according to an obituary in The New York Times. Coleman, 33, had been playing with Mangione since 2000, Burkhart said.

“When you travel nine years together on a continual basis, it’s a bonding that goes on,” Burkhart said. “It’s like a sports team that has played together for a long time.”

Friday’s line-up for the band will include Mangione, Dave Tull on drums and vocals, Kevin Axt on bass, Corey Allen on keyboards and Grant Geissman on guitar.

The concert is part of “The New Yorker on the Slopes.” The New Yorker magazine and Beaver Creek Resort teamed up to hold the event, which is in its second year and continues through Saturday. Along with the jazz show, “The New Yorker on the Slopes” includes New Yorker cartoonist appearances and a comedy show with Martin Short on Saturday.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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