Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two Members of Chuck Mangione's Band Killed Aboard Continental Airlines Flight 3407

The more I read about the Continental Airlines crash outside of Buffalo on Thursday night the sadder it gets.

Of course, 9/11 widow Beverly Eckert was killed aboard the flight.

Today, I find out that two members of Chuck Mangione's band were also amongst the 49 passengers and crew killed aboard the flight with one person killed on the ground. Saxophonist Gerry Niewood grew up with Mangione in Rochester and has been performing with Mangione since high school. Jazz guitarist Coleman Mellett was also aboard. He joined Mangione's band a decade ago while only in his 20s. Mellett was married to Jeanie Bryson, the daughter of the late jazz trumpet player Dizzie Gillespie.

Niewood and Mellett were going to join Mangione to play a concert with the Buffalo Phiharmonic Orchestra scheduled for Friday night. The concert was cancelled.

I have long been a Chuck Mangione fan (who is probably best known to most for his occasional guest appearances on the FOX animated series King of the Hill.) His 1979 soundtrack album Children of Sanchez was one of three albums we listened to in the year my family spent on sabbatical in Victoria, British Columbia. The other two were Share The Land by the The Guess Who and The Seventh Son by Mose Allison.

I had the opportunity to see Mangione in concert at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston in late 2000 and briefly met with him. Niewood and Mellett would have been there too.

But for the Grace of G-d.

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