An Interview With LESLIE MANDOKI About His Music and Upcoming New York Show ‘Wings of Freedom’ With MANDOKI SOULMATES!
Posted On 18 Jan 2018
ManDoki Soulmates (www.mandoki-soulmates.com), led by world-renowned German-Hungarian musician, producer and songwriter Leslie Mandoki, recently announced the ‘Wings of Freedom’ post-GRAMMY® concert on January 29th at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. The ManDoki Soulmates are an unparalleled band of GRAMMY® -winning rock and jazz music greats including Leslie Mandoki, Bobby Kimball (Toto), John Helliwell and Mark Hart (Supertramp and Crowded House), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), Klaus Doldinger (Passport), Nick Van Eede (Cutting Crew), Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, Till Brönner, Cory Henry and Julia Mandoki. The ‘Wings of Freedom’ charity concert will benefit the MusiCares Foundation, which supports members of the music community in need.
Tickets range from $35 – $126 and are available for purchase at Ticketmaster. For more information about the ManDoki Soulmates visit www.mandoki-soulmates.com
The ManDoki Soumates embody the creative spirit of the 1970’s, when artists were striving not only for individual virtuosity in musical expression but also for unlimited and unrestricted individuality and freedom.
“We couldn’t be more excited to debut our ‘Wings of Freedom’ concert series in New York City,” says Leslie Mandoki, Bandleader and founder of ManDoki Soulmates. “We are a group of musical rebels and idealistic freethinkers who endeavor to be authentic and honest, and support common global values for free people in a free and tolerant world. There is much talk of what divides people, however, we chose to focus on what unites us, the human race. This is the spirit of the ManDoki Soulmates.”
For the last 25 years, Leslie Mandoki has united all these legendary icons of Anglo-American rock and jazz-rock as “ManDoki Soulmates” recording new music and playing together as one band on one stage. The best of the best performing their sophisticated and progressive rock music, combining modern jazz influences, and fresh interpretations of some of the best known classic hits of the individual Soulmates. Hot off the heels of the band’s European “Wings of Freedom” tour where the supergroup performed at sold-out concerts at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, L’Olympia in Paris, Berlin Concert House, Palais des Festivals in Cannes, and Sziget festival in Hungary (25th Anniversary Concert), the ManDoki Soulmates will make their US concert debut in New York City.
In June 2017, at the Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale (MIDEM), the world’s largest international assembly of the music industry in Cannes, France, Mandoki Soulmates were awarded with the MIDEM 2017 Achievement Award for the concert tour ‘Wings of Freedom.’ The Award was given to Leslie Mandoki and his Soulmates for drawing the attention to the values of a free and tolerant Europe with their music and for building bridges between the different cultures as the core concepts of the tour. In May of 2017, Mandoki received the “Medal for Extraordinary Merits for Bavaria in a United Europe” to honor his commitment to a unified Europe and the message of the “Wings of Freedom” concerts.
“Sixty years ago, TIME magazine named the Hungarian Freedom Fighter ‘Man of the Year.’ Their story, their fight and their longing for freedom in 1956; inspired me to spread the message of freedom to others with the power of music. This spirit gave us the title of our concerts because as we all know, dreams can only fly on the wings of freedom,” says Leslie Mandoki.
ABOUT THE MANDOKI SOULMATES
Leslie Mandoki founded the concept group, ManDoki Soulmates’ in 1992 with such acclaimed musicians as Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Jack Bruce (Cream) and jazz-rock star Al Di Meola.” In addition to these luminaries, for more than two decades the ManDoki Soulmates band has united legendary icons of Anglo-American rock and jazz-rock in a remarkable lineup including David Clayton-Thomas, Chaka Khan, Chris Thompson, Steve Lukather, Nick van Eede, Eric Burdon, Nik Kershaw, Greg Lake, Randy and Michael Brecker, Bill Evans, John Helliwell, Mark Hart, Tony Carey, Mike Stern, Midge Ure, Anthony Jackson, Victor Bailey, Pino Palladino, Paul Carrack, Cory Henry, Peter Frampton and Jon Lord. Over the last 25 years the ManDoki Soulmates released about 10 albums of new recorded music in Europe and played countless concerts.
The Recording Academy’s charity MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. This event is in celebration of the 2018 GRAMMY® week to benefit MusiCares.
“Wings of Freedom” Concert Information:
Led by Leslie Mandoki with the ManDoki Soulmates
**US Debut Concert**
Monday, Jan. 29th at 8 pm
2124 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
(bet. W 74th and 75th Sts. – by 1/2/3 trains at 72nd St. stop)
to celebrate Grammy Week and to benefit The MusiCares Foundation
Tickets: $35-126 BUY LINK
Learn more about Leslie Mandoki in the following All Access interview:
Happy New Year! Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
I am currently at Lake Starnberg, 15 min south of Munich, Germany. This is where I have my studio complex in which I have produced multiple award winning albums from different artists all over the world.
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your music career? What are you most excited about for this year? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Care to share them with us?
Once more, it was a fabulous year. In fact, we are privileged and honored, that during the last 40 years, every year was better than the one before. It’s going to be challenging in 2018, because creatively 2016 and 2017 were such outstanding years, with so many great projects like our first book and Arthouse Documentary “Longing for Freedom” (the first time I was not “only” creating music with my team), our “Wings of Freedom” tour, we also had great success with our title music for TV and E-Mobility sounds for the car industry. However, in fall of 2018 we are going to release a new ManDoki Soulmates album, which I am writing at the moment.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
First I wanted to be a painter, then a poet, but when I turned 14 it became clear that I am going to be a musician, just like my father. I started studying music at the conservatorium and later at the academy. In my teenage days, I was the musical voice of an anti-communist movement. We were renitent rebels back then and I still hold on to those ideals and this mission today. My father told me on his deathbed: “Don’t dream your life, live your dreams.” So I know, a dreamer is not a fool. I learned that dreams can only fly on the wings of freedom.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your home has affected you and your music today?
I was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary and even under the communist regime, it has always been a very artsy and culturally rich city. Visitors today can still testify to this beautiful melting pot of cultures, where a strong sense of music and love is in the air. It’s a very poetical city and it was a great inspiration growing up.
In 1975, together with my Hungarian friends Laszlo Bencker (Musician) and Gabor Csupo (Filmmaker), I escaped through a tunnel from communist Budapest, dictatorship and censorship into the freedom of the West. In our hearts, we took with us the idealism of our teenage years, the dreams and visions, the music and the art, and still today we remain committed to living these dreams.
More than ever before, I feel such a deep gratitude for the chance I got as a refugee to find a new home in liberty, and for the luck—and freedom—to pursue my youthful aspirations, and indeed to make some of them real. All these dreams came true through music.
As I came to Munich, it was THE music city in continental Europe with bands like Deep Purple, Queen, Elton John, Rolling Stones all recording there to capture the world-famous Munich Sound that was started by Georgio Moroder and Donna Summers. My first touchdown in the industry was as a studio drummer, singer, producer and arranger before I became a popstar.
As a songwriter and producer, I had the immense privilege to enjoy so much appreciation and faith from many excellent artists. At the beginning of this phase of my career, I wrote songs for Amii Stewart and Jennifer Rush, serving as producer for Jennifer as well. Joshua Kadison and I created the wonderful “Americana” album, and I had the honor of composing and producing hand-in-hand with Lionel Richie. Working with Chaka Khan and the Temptations took me into the Motown world, and Toto’s musicians took me to the west coast rock scene and sound. With the masterminds of Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Cream, and Supertramp, I immersed into the world of British progressive rock; The Brecker Brothers, Mike Stern, Bill Evans, Steve Kahn, Anthony Jackson, Victor Bailey, and Al Di Meola opened the New York jazz scene to me. With Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Midge Ure (Ultravox), and Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew), I had the good fortune to walk in the world of sophisticated British pop of the 80s.
Of course, I am most gratified to have had a hand in developing platinum debut albums for several young stars of the German scene.
After I fled to the West in 1975, at the intake center for asylum seekers I was asked as a refugee what I would like to do for work after our adventurous escape. And I just answered that I had come to the West to play music together with my idols and musical heroes including Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, Cream’s Jack Bruce, and Al Di Meola. At the time, people just gave me an odd smile. Less than 20 years later, those 3 became the founding members of my “new” band-project: the ManDoki Soulmates.
With the “ManDoki Soulmates” project, I was able to make my dream come true. We have played countless concerts all over the world and were joined by legends like: Ian Anderson, Jack Bruce, David Clayton-Thomas, Chris Thompson, Bobby Kimball and Steve Lukather, Nick van Eede, Eric Burdon, Nik Kershaw, Greg Lake, Al di Meola, Randy and Michael Brecker, Bill Evans, John Helliwell, Mark Hart, Mike Stern, Anthony Jackson, Chaka Kahn, Victor Bailey, Pino Palladino, and occasionally we were joined by Paul Carrack, Robin Gibb (Bee Gees), Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), Jon Lord (Deep Purple), and Peter Frampton.
After making music together for more than 2 decades and on more than 10 albums, deep and meaningful friendships have developed among the many legendary icons of jazz and rock in the band.
The ManDoki Soulmates have only played 2 shows (Detroit Motor show, Art Basel in Miami) in the USA, which were not open to the public so we are very excited to play our first public show at the Beacon Theatre in New York on January 29th.
What can you tease our readers about your upcoming performance as part of ManDoki Soulmates in New York City at the Beacon Theatre called “Wings of Freedom”?
The ManDoki Soumates embody the creative spirit of the 1970’s, when artists were striving not only for individual virtuosity in musical expression, but also for unlimited and unrestricted individuality and freedom. The ManDoki Soulmates is a group of musical rebels and idealistic freethinkers who continue to endeavor to be authentic and honest, and support common global values for free people in a free and tolerant world by playing sociopolitical relevant Jazz-Rock and Rock together as a community of shared values on one stage with one band.
Notwithstanding the pervasive talk about what divides people, we have chosen to focus on what unites us. This is the spirit of the ManDoki Soulmates.
Musically, please be prepared for a long show with some of the greatest Jazz and Rock-musicians in the world performing together their Soulmates Songs as well as world hits of the individual members of the band with fantastic improvisations.
I am curious to know how different it is performing alone versus with the ManDoki Soulmates? Do you find that you enjoy/prefer one over the other from day to day?
Honestly, I love it either way. Sometimes just the piano, percussion and myself, or just an acoustic guitar is also great. I even toured with a piano, acoustic guitar and string quartet. So, I love minimalistic acoustic sets as much as I love the “big show” with our giant line up of legendary icons where I lead them on stage to give our best to the audience. And this maybe circles back to how I feel about our music. Our music is a handwritten love letter to our audience, rather than a text message.
What is it like performing with such incredible musicians in the ManDoki Soulmates? How did you go about selecting the artists to be part of this group?
Actually, selecting might be the wrong word. I just fuse / melt. We have mutual artistic values and this makes it easy when we want to make it our very best. As our great late Soulmate Greg Lake said: he loves to play with the best musicians in the world. This makes life easy and simple, since almost everyone is a bandleader on his own, everybody appreciates that not the egos but the music is the center piece.
What do you think of social media today and the importance of it for artists now? Do you find that it’s hard to keep up with it all?
Our digital incontinence and social pornographic aspects of social media contribute to creating echo chambers and filter bubbles and support the spreading of alternative facts. However, I am living a contemporary life, so I know we must live with what it is but sometimes we should remember that throughout history mankind has always tried to increase the protection of privacy. For us songwriters, the most intimate thing we do is when we write songs about our inner conflicts. Our feelings, our reflections of the most personal aspects of our lives. I just do not think that I am important enough to post what I am eating or where I am traveling to or what I am going to be wearing. I love to communicate with our audience, respectfully and emotionally through music and art. That’s the way I personally prefer and sometimes the tools of social media can be beneficial for that. But only sometimes…
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
A very special form of fulfillment for me is bridging the gap between music and other areas of our society, as here we may emotionally express our actions through our music. Today, I experience valuable and intense encounters with opinion leaders and decision-makers—leading personalities from politics, economics, media and art within our musical surroundings. In my own personal background, my many intensive personal encounters with Mikhail S. Gorbachov were most formative. It is humbling that he referred to me as an “old friend” in a recent TV interview.
Music, whether recorded or performed live, should convey to our precious audience, that we are trying to play music for a better world. In a very universal, classical understanding that one day also our generation should leave our world in a better shape than it was and we shouldn’t fail with this. This has tremendous emotional and passionate aspects and that’s why music is such an emotional conversation. To be more human, to reflect more.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Honestly, I am very happy with all the legendary icons I am playing with. It is a privilege and honor that they all join me whenever I ask them to. I could not be happier with the way things are.
What do you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you find that a lot of your music has a greater meaning behind it?
Mental laziness blocks the perception. Especially in times of echo chambers, filter bubbles, and alternative facts, we non-compliant musical rebels and idealistic freethinkers feel directly involved, as we’re in the middle of it all.
We do not claim the only objective truth for ourselves, we simply try to be authentic and honest, and support common global values for free people in a free world. All day long we hear about the things that divide us; however, we must focus on what unites us. That is what “Wings of Freedom” and ManDoki Soulmates stand for.
It is very important to us to send a signal from the stage to show how we can build bridges and overcome boundaries through music, and foster the values that make up our tolerant society. “No tolerance for intolerance” in our societies’ futures.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
We know the best songs are composed by life. We just write them down and record them. Pretty much everything I want to tell my audience is written in the songs. But I really want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing the vision. Thank you for coming out to our concerts all around the world. Thank you for listening to our recorded music and thank you for being in my life and allowing me into yours.