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Utopia for Realists

Mandoki Soulmates: New Progressive Rock Visual Album

Running together through a tunnel to escape Communism for freedom tends to make for life-long bonds. For Leslie Mandoki and Gábor Csupo these bonds have now come to fruition in ways that are the things of dreams.

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This is the story of the new world-wide, multi-format release on the Sony InsideOut label of Mandoki Soulmates “Utopia for Realists,” in which Leslie Mandoki’s culturally relevant, socially aware prog-rock, flavored with the virtuosity of jazz-rock, is tightly integrated with visionary concepts from world-famous animator Gábor Csupo for Mandoki’s magnum opus “Hungarian Pictures,” inspired by the music of Béla Bartók.

In 1975, three Hungarians—Mandoki and Csupo, along with Leslie’s musician friend László Bencker—ran through that tunnel to freedom and new lives. Gábor Csupo founded the animation studio Klasky Csupo in Hollywood, producing era-defining shows such as The Simpsons, Rugrats and Duckman. At the refugee camp, Leslie Mandoki had the audacity to tell the resettlement officer that he come to the West to play music with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and Al Di Meola, world-renown jazz-fusion guitarist. Stunningly, both Anderson and Di Meola became founding members 30 years ago of the Mandoki Soulmates band.

With his Soulmates, including over the years many of the brightest lights of progressive rock and jazz, Mandoki has created a sophisticated and mature new music, combining the intellectual and artistic essence of British prog-rock with the virtuosic brilliance of the New York jazz-rock and fusion scene.

Mandoki and Csupo have now collaborated to create the extraordinary new release “Utopia for Realists” based on the Mandoki Soulmates concert marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Csupo’s brilliant idea was to merge high-end animations based on Bartók’s favorite Hungarian paintings with film scenes ofthe Carpathian lowlands, where the composer was inspired by traditional folk songs. The result is a wonderfulvisual reflection of the joyful music being created on stage and in the studio.

This new and unique “Visual Album” brings these Hungarian Soulmates together again to create a thrilling and joyful holistic experience for the eyes, ears, and soul.

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Mandoki Soulmates new worldwide release: visual album and tour dates 2022

(Press Release long version)

On September 24th, the new Mandoki Soulmates visual album “Utopia for Realists,” will be released worldwide simultaneously in multiple formats on Sony’s InsideOut label.

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As a media book the visual album presents a completely new audio-visual work. It fuses the concert film of their epic prog-rock suite “Hungarian Pictures,” which Mandoki Soulmates performed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with top-class animated paintings and atmospherically condensed shots of the Hungarian landscapes merged with film scenes of the recording sessions in the studio.

The media book comes with BluRay, audio CD and deluxe booklet set, vinyl LP with large-format booklet set including also CD, and audio CD with booklet.

The Mandoki Soulmates, once described by the late Soulmate Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) as “one of the best bands in the world”, also announce concert dates next year in Berlin (Nov. 5, 2022), Munich (Nov. 6, 2022), and Hamburg (Nov. 7, 2022), and many more to come. Tickets will be available beginning September 24, 2021.

Under the banner “Utopia for Realists”, more than 30,000 people celebrated on 21st of August 2021 in Budapest the return to the stage of the Mandoki Soulmates and their album release concert. This was the legendary band’s first post-pandemic performance since playing the Berlin Concert Hall in November 2019.

Answering the call of bandleader/producer Leslie Mandoki were an impressive lineup of international progressive jazz-rock icons on stage again including Al Di Meola, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans, Till Brönner, Tony Carey, and Richard Bona. The Italian bandoneon virtuoso Fausto Beccalossi and Budapest music legend Szakcsi, icon of Roma music, added their voices. “I am happy and proud that, despite travel restrictions, many of my Soulmates were able to be on stage with us again,” enthuses Mandoki. “It was overwhelming to perform live together for such a huge audience after such a long time.”

The Mandoki Soulmates delivered goosebump moments for music lovers of all stripes with their progressive jazz-rock suite “Hungarian Pictures – Utopia for Realists” based on themes by Béla Bartók. “Bartók mixed sounds and traditional melodies from diverse regions of the Carpathian lowlands. In that time, this represented the power of music to unite people against the threat of National Socialism. The idea of uniting people with music has been a lasting inspiration for me,” Mandoki explains.

During the closure of concert halls for the pandemic, in March 2020 Leslie Mandoki and his Soulmates produced a musical and technical tour de force online concert entitled “Music is the Greatest Unifier!” Spanning the globe to reach more than one and a half million viewers on TV and YouTube, the concert was recorded in Mandoki’s studio at Lake Starnberg, near Munich, with Soulmates from the world joining live via internet.

Mandoki has made it his mission to fuse progressive rock with jazz rock and to bring it back to social and political relevance. He observes, “In the 30th year of the Mandoki Soulmates’ existence, the success of our online concert shows us how deeply people are touched by our unifying message. We will only overcome our global challenges – the pandemic, financial and economic crises, migration and integration, and climate change – if we overcome the divisions across all borders. Therefore, as a common struggle for a better world, young and old rebels, we must be louder than ever before!”

The soundtrack is: “Utopia for Realists”

Running together through a tunnel to escape Communism for freedom tends to make for life-long bonds. For Leslie Mandoki and Gábor Csupo these bonds have now come to fruition in ways that are the things of dreams.

>> READ LESS

Mandoki Soulmates new worldwide release: visual album and tour dates 2022

(Press Release short version)

Hot on the heels of their open-air performance for more than 30,000 people in August in Budapest, Mandoki Soulmates announce concert dates next year in Berlin (Nov. 5, 2022), Munich (Nov. 6, 2022), and Hamburg (Nov. 7, 2022), and many more to come. Tickets will be available beginning September 24, 2021.

>> READ MORE

On that same date, the new Mandoki Soulmates visual album “Utopia for Realists,” will be released worldwide simultaneously in multiple formats on Sony’s InsideOut label, including a media book with BluRay, audio CD and deluxe booklet set, vinyl LP with large-format booklet set, including also CD, and audio CD with booklet.

The visual album is presented as a new art form, in addition to the concert film of their epic prog-rock suite “Hungarian Pictures”, performed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is the perfect fusion of excellently animated paintings with scenes in the Hungarian landscape and impressions of recording sessions in the studio.

Last week’s spectacular concert kicking off the multi-format release of the “Utopia for Realists” visual album once again underscores Leslie Mandoki’s mission to fuse prog rock with jazz rock and bring them back to social cultural relevance. During the closure of concert halls for the pandemic, in March 2021 Mandoki and his Soulmates, produced a musical and technical tour de force online concert entitled “Music is the Greatest Unifier!” Described by the late Soulmate Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) as “one of the best bands in the world,” the Soulmates spanned the globe to reach more than one and a half million viewers on TV and YouTube. The online concert was performed in Mandoki’s studio at Lake Starnberg, near Munich, with Soulmates from the world over joining live via internet.

Mandoki states, “In this 30th year of the Mandoki Soulmates’ existence, the success of our online concert shows us how deeply people are touched by our unifying message. We will only overcome our global challenges – the pandemic, financial and economic crises, migration and integration, and climate change – if we overcome the divisions across all borders. Therefore, as a common struggle for a better world, young and old rebels, we must be louder than ever before!”

The soundtrack is: “Utopia for Realists”

>> READ LESS

PRESSE ECHOS / Release Konzert

Leslie Mandoki is celebrating her return to the stage in Budapest

Concert in Budapest 

At the place of his escape: Leslie Mandoki celebrates return to the stage

Entretien avec Leslie Mandoki pour la sortie de Utopia for Realists

Hungarian Pictures

MANDOKI SOULMATES – HUNGARIAN PICTURES MUSIC IS THE GREATEST UNIFIER!

EXKLUSIVES ONLINE-KONZERT DER MANDOKI SOULMATES!

Leslie Mandoki | Starnberger See Ian Anderson | Jethro Tull – Oxford Nick van Eede | Cutting Crew – London Till Brönner | Berlin Szakcsi | Budapest Jane Xie | Shanghai John Helliwell | Supertramp – Liverpool Steve Bailey | Boston Al Di Meola | New York Peter Maffay | Starnberger See Jesse Siebenberg | Supertramp – San Francisco Cory Henry | Los Angeles Deobrat Mishra | Delhi Mike Stern | New York Margarita | Moskau Randy Brecker | Long Island / New York Bill Evans | Nashville Sirreal | Beijing Richard Bona | Miami Moto Fukushima | Tokyo Tony Carey | Los Angeles / Starnberger See Julia Mandoki | Amsterdam

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A musical message to bridge the gap around the world

Mandoki Soulmates playing a world-wide Online Concert against division and for solidarity – now on YouTube!

Uncertainty, perplexity, and division in society are palpable for all of us. Musician legend Leslie Mandoki sees the Corona crisis as “a character test for all of us” and sends a musical message against the division and for solidarity.

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Leslie Mandoki and his soulmates, the band of the band leaders of iconic rock bands and jazz legends, created a very special concert experience for their audience in these pandemic times of lockdowns and closed concert halls.

Under the heading “MUSIC IS THE GREATEST UNIFIER! BRIDGING THE GAP AROUND THE WORLD!” the Mandoki Soulmates are now playing their almost one and a half hour ProgRock suite “Hungarian Pictures” as an online live concert. This time, the virtual stage is not only top-class as usual, but really global, as the musicians from all parts of the world make music together live from home.

In addition to Leslie Mandoki and Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew), Till Brönner, Szakcsi, Jane Xie, John Helliwell (Supertramp), Steve Bailey, Al Di Meola, Peter Maffay, Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp), Cory Henry, Deobrat Mishra, Mike Stern, Margarita, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans, Sirreal, Richard Bona, Moto Fukushima, Tony Carey, Julia Mandoki.

 

A Musical Community of Values

The Mandoki Soulmates band members combined have won 35 Grammy Awards and sold more than 350 million records. These illustrious musicians include the frontmen and leaders of legendary bands such as Supertramp, Jethro Tull, Manfred Man’s Earth Band, Cream, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Toto, Blood, Sweat & Tears, as well as great jazz musicians such as Al di Meola, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans, Richard Bona, Cory Henry, Till Brönner, and Klaus Doldinger. We make music together, but we’re not just a band, we’re a community of values that feels a responsibility to embody and promote values and standards.

 

The pandemic has made concerts as we know and love them impossible for the time being. Nevertheless, we cannot rest—we must be louder than ever before! The global challenges that humanity is facing—pandemics, financial and economic crises, migration and integration, climate change—will only be met if we overcome divisions across all borders.

 

That is why the Mandoki Soulmates, together with musicians from all parts of the world, are raising their voices for unity and against division across all borders: physical, cultural, and intellectual with this online concert series.

 

From our studio at Lake Starnberg, near Munich, we play with Tony Carey and the rest of the Soulmates band who are local. Our Soulmates in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Miami, Nashville, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Delhi, and Moscow are connected to our digital stage. We all play live, whether it is in a living room on 52nd Street in New York, on the beach in South Carolina, or in a private basement studio of a castle in Northern England. Talk about unification! —this is the technology enabling the spiritual, to bridge the gap around the world.

 

The unifying power of music

The prog-rock suite Hungarian Pictures is based on Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s belief in the unifying, border-crossing power of music. With this online concert series, we are symbolically building a bridge around the world. Just as digital technology makes it possible for the Mandoki Soulmates to make music together despite their geographical separation, music makes it possible to overcome many of the divisions between minds.

 

Let us overcome these divisions, build bridges, and do everything possible for the unity of North and South, East and West. We are all Europeans, Africans, Americans, Asians and Australians! Music is the common language that connects us across all barriers.

 

Hungarian Pictures, the core piece and artistic highlight of our current double album, is constructed as suite, based on compositions and themes by Bartók, supplemented with our songs. Together with Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, I had worked on the seed of this idea years ago.

 

Thirst for freedom, responsibility and creativity

For Bartók, diversity in culture creates enrichment. He believed that it is precisely from these differences that art draws the power that enables further development. He mixed sounds and traditional melodies from different regions of the Carpathian Plain in order to set an example against the burgeoning threat of National Socialism (Nazism) through the unifying aspects of music. That unifying impulse inspired Jon Lord, Greg Lake, and me.

 

I am very grateful to our audience for the extraordinary chart success of our double album Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures and the enthusiasm resulting in sold-out concerts. A supporting concert series for 2020 was signed, sealed, and all but delivered when the pandemic arrived. This quarantine of musical expression has been a true test of character, but artistic souls cannot be locked in forever: the urge for freedom, responsibility and creativity are too great.

 

After completing our Mandoki Soulmates “Wings Of Freedom” tour through Europe, we received an invitation from the Grammy Organization to give a concert in New York’s Beacon Theater (where Martin Scorsese shot the Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light). The Soulmates show was a great success with an enthusiastic New York audience, standing ovations, and positive press reviews.

 

From the communist dictatorship to the land of unlimited possibilities

For me, a former asylum seeker who over four decades ago fled from a communist dictatorship to freedom, this success in the “Land of the Free” is a very special moment.

 

After the concert, I spent a few days with my children in Van Morrison’s former house in Topanga Canyon, one of the old “hippie” neighborhoods of Los Angeles. I used this free time to reflect on social developments over the past few years. It became clear to me that we as artists are being challenged to become louder, to be a thorn in the side of society, and to bring progressive jazz rock back to real socio-political relevance. This is how the first ideas for a new album came about. It is the most ambitious and best thing we have ever done: The concept double album Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures.

 

Living Future

The songs on Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures address the challenges in this and subsequent decades of the 21st century. Greed, hatred, and selfishness divide our society throughout the world. With these songs I am putting the common, uniting elements in the foreground instead of the things that separate us. Mindfulness instead of ignorance must become our credo again—a stop to “business as usual.”

 

And where, we must ask, is the big-picture vision for our children? When it comes to inter-generational equity, my generation, the boomers, has simply failed. With the euphoria of the peaceful revolution in Europe of thirty years ago—the fall of the Berlin Wall and all that entailed—we failed to set the course to build a mindful, sustainable, viable future for our grandchildren and future generations.

 

The Soulmates are breaking new ground with these online concerts on the “digital stage.”

Now is the time and here is the space for new thinking!

 

Mission Statement Update

Every crisis is also an opportunity. Covid-19 is an amplifier for all the weak points in our system. This crisis, with its accompanying norm-breaking phenomena, is a character test for our community of solidarity.

 

Especially in these times, we as artists are particularly challenged to stand up for unity and against the division in our society, and to formulate ideas for a better world, for “our colorful republic of Germany,” as my Soulmate Udo Lindenberg calls it—and beyond, for a Multicolored One-World.

 

Music can be the best inoculation against the penetration of extremist ideas into the center of society and thus an important protective mechanism for democracy and our community of solidarity.

 

We now have the opportunity to make a constructive update to our socio-political model so that people are the focus again, mindfulness defeats indifference, and humanity reigns over greed.

 

Who, if not we musicians with our direct line to the audience, should re-ignite the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel and rebuild society?

Music is the greatest unifier! Bridging the gap around the world!

 

Soulmates and their location in our online concert

 

Leslie Mandoki – Lake Starnberg

Ian Anderson – Jethro Tull – Oxford

Nick van Eede – Cutting Crew – London

Till Brönner – Berlin

Szakcsi – Budapest

Jane Xie – Shanghai

John Helliwell – Supertramp – Liverpool

Steve Bailey – Boston

Al Di Meola – New York

Peter Maffay – Lake Starnberg

Jesse Siebenberg – Supertramp – San Francisco

Cory Henry – Los Angeles

Deobrat Mishra – Delhi

Mike Stern – New York

Margarita – Moskau

Randy Brecker – Log Island / New York

Bill Evans – Nashville

Sirreal – Beijing

Richard Bona – Miami

Moto Fukushima – Tokyo

Tony Carey – Los Angeles

Julia Mandoki – Amsterdam

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PRESS ECHO

GEWINNER

Keep on Oster-rockin!

Soulmates wollen Vereinigung

Leslie Mandokis Osterkonzert

Durch die Musik will er die Menschen vereinen

Leslie Mandokis Idee von einer Brücke

Exklusive Weltpremiere

Mandoki Soulmates mit Live-Konzert gegen Spaltung der Gesellschaft

Mandoki Soulmates mit Konzert-Live-Erlebnis

Konzert gegen die Spaltung der Gesellschaft

Von Tutzing bis New York

Weltumspannende Osterbotschaft

Leslie Mandokis musikalische Osterbotschaft:

Ein Online-Konzert gegen die Spaltung

Mandoki Soulmates – Music is the greatest Unifier

Konzerterlebnis mit Weltstars im Ersten

Weltstars im Online-Live Konzert:

Eine musikalische Osterbotschaft als Brücke um die Welt!

Geschenk der Mandoki Soulmates

Online-Konzert gegen Spaltung der Gesellschaft

Mandoki Soulmates- ‘Hungarian Pictures’ Online Konzert

MUSIC IS THE GREATEST UNIFIER! BRIDGING THE GAP AROUND THE WORLD!

Mandoki Soulmates

Virtuelles Livekonzert mit Starbesetzung

Weltumspannend und weltvereinend

MANDOKI SOULMATES

Die MANDOKI SOULMATES spielen ein Online-Live-Konzert

und gehen im November 2022 auf Tour!

TV

Leslie Mandoki in der BR Abendschau

Virtuelle Bühne weltumspannend & hochkarätig

Sat.1 FRÜHSTÜCKSFERNSEHEN

LESLIE MANDOKI VERANSTALTET LIVEKONZERT

RTL GUTEN MORGEN DEUTSCHLAND

Gegen Spaltung und für Zusammenhalt

MANDOKI SOULMATES

MUSIC IS THE GREATEST UNIFIER!

MANDOKI SOULMATES

Hungarian Pictures Music is the great Unifier Live Event

Ein Konzerterlebnis der ganz besonderen Art

MUSIC IS THE GREATEST UNIFIER! BRIDGING THE GAP AROUND THE WORLD

Mandoki Soulmates

spielen Online Live-Konzert mit Künstlern aus aller Welt

Gegen die Spaltung und für den Zusammenhalt eine musikalische Osterbotschaft

Musik verbindet!

Mandoki Soulmates im Online-Live Konzert

MANDOKI SOULMATES SPIELTEN WELTWEITES ONLINEKONZERT

Eine musikalische Osterbotschaft als Brücke um die Welt

Mandoki Soulmates spielten weltweites Online-Konzert

Leslie Mandoki veranstaltet Livekonzert

Die Botschaft ist, Menschen auch in der Zeit von Corona zu verbinden

Eine musikalische Osterbotschaft als Brücke um die Welt

Statements, essays, other texts and articles 

No Alternative to Freedom – Music Against Division

Thank you for being in my life and

for allowing me into yours.

Thank you, my Soulmates,

for sharing the vision,

ON, BEHIND and IN FRONT

of our stage.

Our destiny is not foretold—it is ours to choose.

But don´t forget:

Freedom must not to be taken for granted,

so, raise your voices for a better world: “Music is the Greatest Unifier!

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No Alternative to Freedom – Music Against Division

In a free society there is no alternative but to have a robust discourse about the alternatives. Two aspects of an artist’s life cannot be quarantined even in lockdown: creativity and responsibility.

Artists are the soul of a society, and controversial, artistic reflections must bring vibrant discourse to the center of society.

In these challenging times, humor—even black humor—can bring the laughter that makes the pain bearable. Without this ironic and satirical turn in the Zeitgeist, divisions can cut even deeper.

It is deadly serious what this pandemic has brought upon us. And yes, we all must take responsibility for all areas, be it vaccine procurement, the vaccinations themselves, or contact avoidance. Every artist must formulate their own response in their own voice. The artistic soul overflows now, and must be channeled into a driving force to bring more light than heat.

Art is free, and art must be allowed to do anything and everything. Even in the darkest Middle Ages, there was only a fine line between the court jester and the artist, as in the truths spoken by a Shakespearean fool.

Judging others, let alone condemning others, has never been my thing. Rather, in the suffering of the past year’s pandemic, when being on stage was not possible for any artist in the world, I asked myself: What can I do?

That is why “We Say Thank You” was created, and why our online concert was born. Yes, music can be the answer to overcome geographic, demographic, and generational divisions. Only if we move together through this dark tunnel of the pandemic can we find the light of unity, and music can provide our locomotion.

In fall 2020, I survived a covid infection with a very heavy viral load. My self-medication against this evil virus was self-mockery, self-reflection, and, above all, music. Thinking that our audience shares our vision, it was my burning desire to use this crisis as a chance to advocate as an artist that the greedy egoism of our society changes to mindfulness toward our fellow humanity.

This is how “Music Against Division – Music is the Greatest Unifier!” came into being. Music for humanity and togetherness, for connecting and togetherness.

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#WeSayThankYou

Our charity song dedicated to the COVID-19 heroes

Let’s Take a Breath for a Better World

A plea for solidarity from Leslie Mandoki

 

Morning has broken – with challenges that were predicted by many, but for which few were prepared. These challenges are in the process of defining who we are. My plea for solidarity amounts to an exhortation that we must become the group that stands together, making new and necessary connections in spite of any and all rifts and divisions. The fight against the pandemic and against divisions of all kinds etches in sharp relief where we stand.

>> READ MORE

We are learning day by day, again and again. Here in Germany, we have a history that teaches us what happens when racism horrifically poisons a society, killing a once vibrant and diverse culture by breaking the most fundamental rules of civilization. Of course, we have not learned this lesson perfectly. But even as I contemplate the bleakest aspects of today’s headlines, my heart is pushing me back toward an optimism rooted in one of our world’s great unifiers: music. But more on this later…

 

In the coronavirus isolation of my deserted recording studio, prior to the outbreak of protests across the world in response to the killing of George Floyd—before this I was thinking, hoping, that the enforced hiatus due to the virus could give us the space for new thinking and new policies to grow. Now I think we all realize: we don’t have time for that.

 

Right now, we must come together, making sure everyone feels they are being heard. We must bring the discourse of differing views no matter how extreme in to the fold of the center of society, both to learn from them and to hold them to account.

 

Here in Germany, we are asking ourselves why so many people are expressing their fears in the form of conspiracy theories. We need to listen attentively to them in order to present a cogent and robust opposing point of view, based on respect and knowledge rather than anger and fear. The resilience of our pluralistic, democratic society will grow if we can endure a diversity of dissent in a way that escapes the filter bubbles and echo chambers of our current chaotic public discourse.

 

The massive threat to life as we know it from the coronavirus crisis, combined with all the other concurrent crises—world finance, refugee, globalization, fake news, conspiracy theories, as well as the sustained protests in the US and abroad—is what existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre would have called de trop, or “too much.” The only way out of this storm is through visionary leadership—political, cultural, and artistic. I call on my friends in prominent positions to lead from the front, not from behind political calculations based on polling, and to use these crises, together, as an opportunity to fight for unity and against division in society.

 

I am also making a special call to my peers in the music business to help our artist colleagues who are struggling for their existence. Young, innovative artists at the beginning of their careers have been particularly hard-hit. The paradigm shift in the recording industry has made breaking into the business harder than ever for artists who do not fit neatly into a mainstream commercial category. Culture needs diversity, and it would be a disaster if this diversity were thinned out by the corona crisis and only we established artists would be able to survive this time. Thus, colleagues of my generation and I need to hold the megaphone calling for support for these promising artists who are the future of the artistic soul of our society.

 

Not coincidentally, the Mandoki Soulmates 2019 double album “Living in the Gap & Hungarian Pictures” was made to express this ideal of the old rebels coming together with the young upstarts to fight for unity and against division in our society.

 

We cannot forget that the coronavirus crisis has provided a painfully hard-won opportunity to re-evaluate who and what is really, systemically important in our society, and to create new criteria for evaluating who creates added value, cohesion, and solidarity. At the same time, we must take a hard look at those who profit when our society is in crisis.

After the 2008 financial crisis, we failed to root out its causes. Because of this, uninhibited speculators have been able to shamelessly profit from the schadenfreude of short selling in this coronavirus crisis. Perhaps we can turn the corner from allowing financial markets to determine the course of events to having a community held together by humanity.

 

Especially in these times of rapid upheavals on many fronts, let us make sure that mindfulness triumphs over greed, and humanity over indifference. It is only with a unified effort that we can overcome these challenges, which are further exacerbated by the uncertainties of the current climate. Together, we must not only imagine, but create a new world of equality. So, let’s take a breath for a better world!

 

The Philosophy of Music

We need to bring our music back to socio-political relevance. We must once again sing and play together, against division and for cohesion. That is, and must be, the philosophy of our music. We musicians often think with our hearts. Our songs are created with an unwavering belief in the connecting power of music. Let’s change the world with our music! We are walking in the footsteps of the Woodstock generation—let us mount a new challenge to the world of similar proportions.

My most devout hope is that we will overcome these crises and live out our passion for life again with our audience.

However, as I wrote years ago on our album Aquarelle, “I am not young enough to know everything.”

 

>> READ LESS

Ian Anderson & Leslie Mandoki with the Soulmates #WeSayThankYou

My dear pal Hungarian-born German producer, songwriter and bandleader Leslie Mandoki sent an email to me two days ago with the request to play a few lines of flute and sing along here and there on a new non-profit song he had just written. This is in the context of his own complete isolation in Germany where his doctor wife, Eva, is a first contact physician in their region of Bavaria. We have worked together for more than 20 years on various collaborations with his band Soulmates featuring the good and great of classic rock and jazz.

>> READ MORE

My first reaction was – hopefully not another sanctimonious, self-serving and smug pop star utterance we can really do without. But – when I actually heard the master tracks and loaded them up in my audio recording software I was very touched by the simple and direct sentiments of the lyrics.  So the usually-cynical and grumpy Mr A decided to give it a go.

 

Of course, we all thank the brave, hardworking front-line medics and care workers around the world. But he managed to put into the lyrics references to the police, grocery clerks, supermarket workers too. Even the dark reference to the speculators making a killing from the current crisis.

 

I would like to add to the list those essential worker folks who it was impossible to squeeze into a three minute song:

the farmers and all those in food production, distribution and retail; the fishermen out there on the high seas;

the refuse collectors; our military who continue to keep us safe; the delivery men and women who try to ensure our supplies with essentials; journalists and news-gatherers who keep us informed with often depressing but sometimes uplifting stories from around the world;

the medical and economic advisors to governments who have to carry the can, if and when they get it wrong, as unfortunately they sometimes will in this ever-evolving and complex world situation. And, of course, all the other workers who continue to toil in the background to keep this world turning, if a little more slowly, for the months to come.

 

To all, we say, thank you.

(Ian Anderson)

>> READ LESS

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About the Soulmates

A unique supergroup

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A group of musical masterminds and frontmen of bands like:

Jethro Tull, Cream, Toto, Supertramp, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Blood Sweat & Tears,

Manfred Mann´s Earth Band, Cutting Crew, Miles Davis and many more…

Tony Carey, Julia Mandoki, Al di Meola, David Clayton-Thomas, Cory Henry, Bobby Kimball, Chris Thompson, Nick van Eede, Leslie Mandoki, Randy Brecker, John Helliwell, Till Brönner, Bill Evans, Klaus Doldinger

Al di Meola, Grek Lake, Peter Maffay, Bobby Kimball, Chaka Khan, Leslie Mandoki, Jack Bruce, John Helliwell, Chris Thompson, Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, Nick van Eede

  • LESLIE MANDOKI – vocals, drums, percussion & udu
  • BOBBY KIMBALL – vocals
  • CHRIS THOMPSON – vocals
  • IAN ANDERSON – vocals & flute
  • JACK BRUCE – vocals & bass
  • PETER MAFFAY – vocals
  • NICK VAN EEDE – vocals
  • DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS – vocals
  • JULIA MANDOKI – vocals
  • AL DI MEOLA – guitars
  • MIKE STERN – guitars
  • RANDY BRECKER – trumpet & flügelhorn
  • ADA BRECKER – tenor & soprano saxophone
  • BILL EVANS – tenor & soprano saxophone
  • JOHN HELLIWELL – tenor, soprano, alto saxophone & clarinet
  • TILL BRÖNNER – trumpet
  • CORY HENRY – Hammond, piano & Rhodes
  • SIMON PHILLIPS – drums
  • TONY CAREY – vocals, Hammond & piano
  • JESSE SIEBENBERG – vocals
  • RICHARD BONA – bass & vocals
  • STEVE BAILEY – 6-string fretless bass

PRESS CLIPPINGS

“Living in the Gap / Hungarian Pictures,

that has an eclectic mix of soul, jazz, and prog-rock elements, with inspiring lyrics about unity and freedom.”

“Legendary Rock/Jazz Supergroup Mandoki Soulmates Release Single”

We Say Thank You

“…exceptional quality of interpretation and arrangements for this double album of Mandoki Soulmates.”

MANDOKI SOULMATES SIGNS TO INSIDEOUTMUSIC

“Making Sound”

Leslie Mandoki,

“Music is the greatest unifier..” 

“Living In the Gap 

features a wealth of stunning tracks…”

“German-Hungarian musician Leslie Mandoki mixes jazz and rock with an all star cast on this ambitious double album filled with music and messages”

“This latest double album merges the cream of jazz, rock, fusion and pop”

“Mandoki Soulmates Make Music With a Progressive Posture and Idealistic Intents”

“Zach Martin talks to Leslie Mandoki about #WeSayThankYou” 

“I give this 5 out of 5 Music Guru stars”

We Say Thank You

 “LIVING IN THE GAP HUNGARIAN PICTURES” 

“INTO THE ULTRASONIC GAP

WITH LESLIE MANDOKI AND MANDOKI SOULMATES”

“Eccellente supergruppo”

“Hongaars verbinder”

“En dat geldt zeker ook voor de muziek op deze dubbelaar want die is van hoog niveau.”

Everything about this operation screams “classy.”

“genialidade instrumental”

“Taking a breath for a better world a plea for solidarity from Leslie Mandoki”

“Mandoki Soulmates release “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“Mandoki Soulmates release “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“funkland, jazzland, rockland, and all wonderful points in between”

“Anne Carlini – CD Reviews”

Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures 

“Mandoki Soulmates release “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“Mandoki Soulmates release “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“Art rock supergroup Mandoki Soulmates release full-lenght album”

“Leslie Mándoki: The Philosophy of Music”

“Mandoki Soulmates release “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“Mandoki Soulmates release “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“Mandoki Soulmates – Living In The Gap / Hungarian Pictures”

“Leslie Mandoki is Making a Scene”

“Mandoki Soulmates-Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures”

“Ein alter Rebell

ganz jung –
das ist das wichtigste Rock-Album des Jahres”

“Integration ist eine Bringschuld”

“Soundtrack für die Strasse”

“An Artist’s Perspective: ‘Let’s Take A Breath For A Better World”

“Introducing Leslie Mandoki to american talk and music radio”

“Mandoki hat “Ein Herz für Kinder”

“Silberstreifen”

“Silberstreifen”

“Ambitionierte Musik zwischen den Welten”

“A glorious thing”

“Wie Leslie Mandoki auf die Pandemie reagiert”

“Thank You!”

Musiker Leslie Mandoki dankt den Helden der Corona-Zeit

“Leslie Mandokis Corona-Reflektionen”

Leslie Mandoki

bei MDR um 4

“Tonmeister und Taktgeber”

Stars for free

– fast / N-TV

“Aus dem Wohnzimmer ins Wohnzimmer”

“Sein „Thank You“

an alle Helden dieser Tage”

“We say thank you” 

Sänger Leslie Mandoki dankt den Corona-Helfern

“Wir müssen Gier durch Achtsamkeit ersetzen –
wenn Merz Kanzler wird, haben wir nichts gelernt”

“Konzert gegen Hass in Circus Krone”

Leslie Mandoki in der BR Abendschau 

“Thank You”

Jazz Rock Supergroup

MANDOKI SOULMATES Say “THANK YOU”

To The COVID-19 Helpers With Their New Single!

“Verschwörungstheorien sind nicht die Lösung”

Lasst uns diese Krise als Chance nutzen!

“Die Corona-Krise zeigt,wie wichtig die Berufe sind, die wir lange nicht wertschätzten”

Leslie Mandoki in der BR Abendschau 

“Living in the Gap & Hungarian Pictures”

LIVING IN THE GAP + HUNGARIAN PICTURES

ALBUM LINE UP

  • LESLIE MANDOKI – vocals, drums, percussion & udu
  • BOBBY KIMBALL – vocals
  • CHRIS THOMPSON – vocals
  • IAN ANDERSON – vocals & flute
  • JACK BRUCE – vocals & bass
  • PETER MAFFAY – vocals
  • NICK VAN EEDE – vocals
  • DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS – vocals
  • JULIA MANDOKI – vocals
  • AL DI MEOLA – guitars
  • MIKE STERN – guitars
  • RANDY BRECKER – trumpet & flügelhorn
  • ADA BRECKER – tenor & soprano saxophone
  • BILL EVANS – tenor & soprano saxophone
  • JOHN HELLIWELL – tenor, soprano, alto saxophone & clarinet
  • TILL BRÖNNER – trumpet
  • CORY HENRY – Hammond, piano & Rhodes
  • SIMON PHILLIPS – drums
  • TONY CAREY – vocals, Hammond & piano
  • JESSE SIEBENBERG – vocals
  • RICHARD BONA – bass & vocals
  • STEVE BAILEY – 6-string fretless bass

Unruly musical rebels

Autumn 2019 in Germany saw the release of the probably most ambitious work of the Mandoki Soulmates yet. An essential concept-double-album about tribalism.

10 years after their last studio album, the Mandoki Soulmates released in their homebase Germany the concept-double-album “Living In The Gap and Hungarian Pictures” on October 11th, 2019. Shortly after releasing the Blu Ray on their last tour “Wings of Freedom” in May, 2019 they hit the road again with a spectacular line up, playing to concert halls in Hamburg, Munich and Dortmund and for the grand finale in Berlin as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

 

The story begins in 1975, when the young Jazz-Rock musician Leslie Mandoki adventurously fled the Stalinist dictatorship in Budapest through a border tunnel to find freedom in the west.

“Live your dreams and don’t dream your life!” that is what his father told him on his deathbed.

After Leslie, who with his band represented the voice of the student opposition against the communist regime in Hungary, experienced bitter setbacks of censorship and stage bans and after he got told that he would never possess a passport, the decision to flee in order to fulfil his artistic vision in freedom matured. At the intake center for asylum seekers in Germany it was protocoled that he told the immigration officers his plans in Germany are to play with his musical heroes Jack Bruce (Cream), Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) and Al Di Meola.

 

Nearly three decades ago, Leslie finally united all these legends of the Jazz and Rock scene for the first time in a Song called “Mother Europe”. Since then, Mandoki’s Jazzrock project under the name MANDOKI SOULMATES developed into a worldwide unique band of band leaders that have recorded 10 studio albums and various live-DVD and Blu-rays. Additionally they played numerous concerts throughout the world, from Shanghai to New York, from Sao Paulo to Moscow and in European metropoles from London to Paris, everywhere one could experience the overwhelming joy of playing and exceptional virtuosity of the Soulmates. Rightfully so, the Süddeutsche Zeitung described Leslie as “the one who plays with the heroes!”

>> READ MORE

Mandoki lets his “heroes” be themselves musically, no matter if in the studio or on stage, and they appreciate him for it: Jack Bruce for example compared him to Duke Ellington because of his skill to know exactly who is going to be playing what while writing the music. Al Di Meola calls him the “Hungarian Quincy Jones” and Ian Anderson adds: “He’s the master-chef in the kitchen, the mastermind. We just turn up for work.”

 

Cutting Crew founder Nick van Eede relishes this special atmosphere in Mandoki’s Band.

“It doesn’t seem to be any egos going on. Big stars and it’s just everybody sharing the dressing room and the Whiskey. The stories. That’s unusual.” And he adds: “He has this ability to get together big names and they love it. I don’t know anybody else in the world who can pull this off.” The Guitar-Hero Mike Stern says: “Leslie plays beautiful drums. He plays his ass off. So it’s a ball, I dig it!” And Soul-legend Chaka Khan: “Leslie has some kind of magic going on with him. He is unique. He can bring people together and pull the best out of them and get everyone to work together. He is like an alchemist. And I love him very much.”

 

The result of all these things was best summarized by Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) when he described the Soulmates simply as “one of the best bands you will ever hear.”

 

But for Leslie, above all of this stands his vision to return progressive Jazz-Rock together with his Soulmates back to its socio-political relevance. “The Mandoki Soulmates are not administrators of world hits, we are a fresh band full of thirst for action.” says Mandoki. With their new double-album “Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures” they achieve it more consequently and vividly than ever. A new definition of Prog-Rock sophisticated and contemporary sound recorded with loads of love for detail on true analog gear.

 

Generations of grand masters of Progressive Rock and Jazz-rock play together on this new double-album: Bobby Kimball (Toto), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s EarthBand), Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Jack Bruce (Cream), Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew), Peter Maffay, David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears), Tony Carey (Rainbow), John Helliwell and Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp), Julia Mandoki, Al Di Meola, Mike Stern, Simon Philipps, Randy Brecker, Ada Brecker, Bill Evans, Till Brönner, Cory Henry, Richard Bona, Steve Bailey and more.

Musically, they throw the full weight of this musical community of the Crème de la Crème of Jazz and Rock behind this project.

 

You will witness great musical moments when the world’s best trumpet player Randy Brecker, improvisation-genius Bill Evans on his soprano saxophone and John Helliwell (Supertramp) on his clarinet paint their musical paintings. Guitar-legends like Al Di Meola and Mike Stern, Soulmates-youngster and three-times Grammy winner Cory Henry on the Hammond or Bass-virtuoso Richard Bona, a recommendation of Leslie Mandoki’s friend Quincy Jones, thrill us with their overwhelming joy of playing and intoxicating solos. The various instrumental parts are wonderfully connected by touching and emotional songs, performed by Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew), Tony Carey (Rainbow), as well as Leslie Mandoki’s daughter Julia. A magnificent piece – simply breathtaking.

 

The new double-album presents an extraordinarily ambitious concept. Two hours of new music. The first CD “Living In The Gap” contains 10 newly composed Soulmates-songs distinctively current lyrics. To include their past away founding member Jack Bruce, the analog tape archive have been searched for old sessions. Hence, Jack’s vocals and his unique fretless bass playing became the basis of two further songs on the album. One could say the soulmates play around his past performance in order to include him one last time in their midst.

 

On the second CD “Hungarian Pictures” the listeners witness a 46-min ProgRock suite based on the compositions and themes of Béla Bartók complemented with new compositions and integrated songs. Leslie Mandoki started the realization of this idea years ago with his soulmates Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer and Jon Lord of Deep Purple.

 

For Bartók, diversity in culture represented a great richness, since the power of art is especially fueled by these differences. He mixed sounds and traditional melodies from the various regions of the Carpathian lowlands, highlighting the unifying aspects between its people in order to take a stand against the threat of uprising nationalism. This notion of unity inspired Jon Lord, Greg Lake and myself” says Leslie Mandoki.

 

With this suite, far away from any conventional formats, the Soulmates really define new musical standards in the ProgRock realm that is well known for experimenting with ambitious concepts and ideas.

But this does not even begin to describe the full scope of Leslie Mandoki’s ambitions with this double-album. The concept-double-album takes a stand on current societal changes, that concern all of us. Mandoki says: “Today, we live in times of tribalism! A divided society, a weakening of the middle class and a strengthening of extremes, that complicate a differentiated balance and constructive, democratic processes of change. Our album is also a statement against the destruction of our culture of debate. Rabble-tweets are poison for a differentiated dialog. Our music simply is not a sociopolitical tweet, it is a feature article with many messages. Our music is not a SMS but a handwritten love letter to our audience and to the unquenchable joy of living, with ink on a piece of paper.

The Soulmates are a musical community of shared values. As musical rebels they feel called upon to raise their voices. Mandoki says: “we do not simply claim the objective truth but rather try to be authentic, keep our integrity and stay honest in order to find answers to the challenges of our times. We try to pass on this spirit for generations to come. There is plenty of work to do for the “young rebels” in these times. Today, we experience a primal state of egoism and greedy casino capitalism, that generates profit from the destruction of societal added value, which we call the liberalization of the financial markets. We allow computer-controlled money to create money, faster than any human labor ever could. We should have created equal opportunity independent from socioeconomic and sociocultural heritage and we completely failed at that. There is an extreme social unbalance that grew in our society. Mindfulness rather than ignorance should return to our fundamental premise. The explosion of military expenditures just as in times of the cold war show us another catastrophic wrong-headed development.”

 

And Mandoki continues with themes that are reflected in the lyrics: “Through filter bubbles and echo chambers, our society loses the unifying aspects. If we are being honest, we fled far too many times into our cosmopolitan-urban, academic comfort zones. How is it my concern? Better to keep one’s peace than to stand up to undesirable developments. But we must stand up to the silence and the “looking the other way.” That’s why it’s important to highlight the unifying aspects rather than the dividing ones.

 

Our album, written by “old rebels” for “young and old rebels” is a wake-up call for the responsibility of the ideals of our teenage days, so that they may never loose significance. We all have to search for ways to leave a better world behind for generations to come, because peaceful, free world is no matter of course.”

These were many, very long sentences. But if one wants to understand the impetus behind this double-album, one has to read three sentences more than usual. And listen to a dozen songs more than usual.

We promise loads of pleasure while listening!

>> READ LESS

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BEHIND THE LYRICS

We are living in a divided society. A society, where its people live in their own individual bubbles, filtered by algorithms, in echo chambers, where we are surrounded exclusively by our own or similar opinions. Nowadays, concerning music for instance, an algorithm decides which music fits my taste, based on my previous listening and buying habits. „Living In The Gap“ talks precisely about this phenomenon, about how our society has become divided through the destructive nature of our echo chambers and filter bubbles. Back in the day, you would go into large a book or record store, where you would stumble upon books or CDs that you weren’t even looking for. You would flick through a newspaper, discovering articles that you weren’t previously interested in. But doesn’t exactly that broaden our horizon?

>> READ MORE

Socio-politically, it is even more devastating to constantly hear one’s own opinion trapped in this never-ending filter bubble and echo chamber. It’s sort of a mental incest, homogenization instead of diversity, dialectic, education and the further development of society. This diversity must be present in our socio-political debates. In a pluralist society we have to be able to tolerate dissent and reflect the different opinions in a moderate and differentiated way. However, the public discourse can be manipulated when knowledge and competence-based debate gets destroyed by filter bubbles and echo chambers and the support of extreme positions develops hysteria. History taught us that we can’t allow “tolerance for intolerance.”

„We´re living in the gap, livin´ in the great divide. Living in the news bubble, livin´ in the echo chambers.“

We all know the American movement against racial discrimination and the Vietnam war of the 1960s. Technically, the „Old Rebels“ are the “children of the Hippies from Woodstock.” Here, I am talking about peace movement, anti-nuclear activists and resistance against the nuclear rearmament. Unfortunately, today, we have to stand up against nuclear rearmament again. The explosion of military spending on the scale of the cold war shows a catastrophically wrongheaded development, and we need to much, much louder against racism!!!

“Are we old rebels with a new dream, or are we young rebels with an old dream”

We must stand up for a peaceful, free world and we have to pass on the „The Torch“ to the next generation! There is a lot to do for the „Young Rebels“ because of our collective failure.

„Now young rebels shall rule the world to steer us away from what we have burned“

„We´ve smoked the twine and chopped up a line. And you pay the dues, you´ll pay the fine. We did the crime. But you will do the time“.

Greed and limitless egoism intensify the imbalance of our society. That’s what „Too Much Pride“ is all about. We had the chance to transform our societal guiding principle into a social market economy, where the people stand at the heart of it. Instead, today, we experience a primal state of egoism and greedy casino capitalism, that generates profit from the destruction of societal added value, which we call the liberalizations of the financial markets. Hopelessly overpaid speculators, that inflict great damage to our society, we call investment bankers. We allow computer-controlled money to create money, faster than any human labor ever could. We should have created equal opportunity independent from socioeconomic and sociocultural heritage and we completely failed at that. There is an extreme social unbalance that grew in our society. Mindfulness rather than ignorance should return to our fundamental premise.

The lies of echo chambers create a new reality. Life becomes a stage made out of cheap banality

Greed is also responsible for the increasingly unjust global imbalance. People from countries that we formerly called developing countries, loose their basis of existence through the extreme exploitation that is fueled by our never-ending consumption. Even though the pursuit of happiness and the right of life and equal opportunity are the fundamental pillars of our society. Our canon of values also recognizes that human dignity is inviolable, and freedom of speech and belief must be respected and protected. Equal rights for everybody mean that we can’t tolerate intolerance. Naturally a tolerant society is also defined by gender equality and we all know that there is still a long way ahead of us in that regard since it’s not just about equal rights but also about equal social consideration. „Hottest Queen Of Cool“ is not really a political song about the equality of men and women but more about the much needed normality of our social interactions.

In a globalized world we increasingly question the definition of home, culture and roots.: „Where We Belong“.

I came to Germany as an asylum seeker with a longing for freedom and the desire to exercise my right to freedom of speech.

As a refugee I came to Germany to be free to disagree

For me, the meaning of home is defined by smells, friends and family, socializing, deep emotional connection to language and culture and mutual values.

Through filter bubbles and echo chambers we increasingly lose our unifying elements. One can barely find far-reaching forums to be noticed by large masses when fighting for more justice. Especially now us artists but also journalists are called upon, to build bridges wherever cracks have manifested themselves, for our dream of a unified world in freedom and peace, where the unification outweighs the division.

We actually would need a new age of enlightenment. But not for “the others” but for ourselves. Talking about the polarization of social media it becomes apparent that tolerance for diverse opinions and respectful, argumentative and diplomatic discourse have to be relearned. „I’m Not Your Enemy“ talks about how we make a bogeyman out of missing consensus, when actually, the “other one” is not an enemy but merely someone with a different opinion about a certain topic. In analog societies, such a situation demanded discussion. Nowadays those situations often produce degradation, humiliation, and declassification mechanisms, especially on social media platforms. But we all have to search for ways to leave a better world for generations to come.

Teenage dreams are real dreams because they grew without the limitation of daily constraints. But what happens to those dreams as you grow older and start to take responsibility, when pragmatism and daily responsibilities dictate our thinking?

„Wake Up“ is a wake up call that urges us: “don’t forget your first revolution!” We have to energetically remind ourselves of our “first revolution” the time when we were still free to dream our dreams of freedom and peace because they are no matter of course.

„I´ll never forget my first revolution, it´s like a wake-up call!“

 

>> READ LESS

SOULMATES ABOUT SOULMATES

The philosophy of creation

John Helliwell (SUPERTRAMP)

This whole thing, his whole story, which he tells through his music, is about him escaping oppression and standing up for freedom. Especially with the new album – in a world of fake news, this is real.

Leslie is the captain of the ship, the ship of the soulmates that ploughs its way across humanity – and he knows where to steer. It´s nice to relax under the umbrella of Leslie. He´s like a big umbrella getting everyone inside. I quite like that. And by the way, I’m proud to call him my old friend, too.

 

Bobby Kimball (TOTO)

Leslie is one of my best friends, who introduced me to some of the finest musicians on this planet. And I love’em all, and I love him. It’s good musicianship here.  I think categorically it’s a class of its own. Every one of the characters gets to shine. He has people around him that love him and he has assembled musicians around him that love him very much!  The songs on this CD are the best they’ve ever done… really knockin’ me out. I think these guys are some of the most incredible writers. Not only were the songs fun to sing, but the quality of the arrangements and musicianship were at a premium level of excellence.

>> READ MORE

 

Nick van Eede (CUTTING CREW)

Leslie has this ability to get together big names and they love it, they want to do it and it works. It doesn´t seem to be any egos going on. Big stars and it´s just everybody is sharing the dressing room and the whisky, the stories. And that´s unusual. So, hats off to Leslie! I don´t know anybody else in the world that can pull this off.

This new album hurts. There are so many tricky melodies, it´s sensational. Great playing and I´m happy to be on this record. I hope I can step up and match the Cory´s and the Randy´s. It´s a journey and it ends up in this enormous track at the end.

It´s everything that in the 80´s was trashed and canned. You know, the “concept album”, “Double-album” for Christs sake!

 

Ian Anderson (JETHRO TULL)

Leslie is the master chef in the kitchen, mixing all these exotic spices and mystical musical influences together. He is a great musician and it’s very rare that you get good musicians and good record producers in the same person. The performance is what Leslie is looking for.  

He is the mastermind, we just turn up to work.

It’s probably the only time that I ever sung anybody else’s lyrics. Lyrically it’s very personal to Leslie. We have to try to get into the mind of Leslie to understand his background and where he comes from. And sing those songs for Leslie.

 

Mike Stern

Very inspiring and the music is beautiful. He’s got tunes that reach a lot of people. He knows how to do that and the way he does it is really cool. And he plays beautiful drums, he plays his ass off, so it´s a ball, I dig it.”

 

Bill Evans

Leslie pushes the boundaries of pop music and it’s nice to be a part of a project that has such great feel to it, with musicians who take it to the highest level.

 

Cory Henry

I am very honoured to be part of this legendary collective. To me as the youngest in Leslie’s iconic band, it was a great musical enrichment to play with this world-class cast under his direction.

Leslie is just a cool cat and he attracts cool cats and that´s an amazing thing to say, because there´s not a lot of cool people, especially not on that level. They’re all stars, like real all-stars, tons of records sold, Grammys and awards – accomplished, I should say.  

We all come together for this common cause and we have deeper level of understanding through the music.

I just like the fact, that we are playing good music.

This music of the new album with all these changes, amazing, it just got me back into thinking about the side of classical music that I do love and to that interleading approach to my organ playing.

 

Till Brönner

Leslie Mandoki is not only a musician and a producer, but he is all in one. With a holistic approach, he creates things on a very high level. He must be described as a passionate music maniac, which is something I can strongly relate to, like many other great artists for whom music is the most important thing in life.  I know and adore Leslie as a musician and I am very proud that we are connected this way.

 

We just played on stage for 4 hours with the “who is who” of the rock and jazz scene. Those are the last decades, the important music decades of handmade live music. Music, that was created by people, who really dedicate their whole live to music or possibly to an instrument or their voice. So, try to find a band, where you can ask the sax-player, how it was to play with Miles Davis. And Randy Brecker, he used to be my teacher. And Cory Henry has also received a few Grammys.

 

Randy Brecker

We all look to Leslie, but since everyone is a leader, everyone understands the mechanics of the show, this extravagance. That’s also what makes this project that interesting is the fact that everyone is a bandleader and has their own vision of music so to speak.

We’re all kind of come together and we follow Leslie’s lead. He knows what he wants to hear and we all kind of work around what he says and it’s very interesting to see how all these great musicians bend together and play together.

 

Greg Lake (EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER)

I like Leslie, we are friends, but I also enjoy playing with the great quality musicians. We almost don’t need to speak. Because we speak through the music and I think, that is the beauty of it. There is a lot of love in the room – that is what you feel right here. It´s a wonderful feeling. It´s more like a family.  All of a sudden it happens that something turns out with so much power and feeling that it communicates with people. That is just the way of our music, that is played by one of the best bands you will ever hear.”

 

Al Di Meola

Working with Leslie is really a pleasure. To keep the balance was really Leslie’s job. That’s a great testament to his ability to produce, you know. Great producers pull people together, and he has done that. It takes his persistence as a producer because he’s kind of like that Hungarian Quincy Jones, where he puts us. He consistently makes it happen. And that’s a special talent that he possesses.

Bartók was one of the ones that was very avantgarde in the way that he wrote and very, very advanced. So, this is kind of a tribute record based on his concept. So, this new album is a unique project also in that sense.

 

Peter Maffay

Leslie coaches his projects very well, and it is an outstanding quality. The segment Leslie fills with his team is definitely not occupied by anyone, in any way, shape, or form. In this area, he is the king. I consider Leslie to be one of the pioneers in the music business. I admire his flexibility and his creativity, bringing people together, people of very different kinds of music, and melting them together, so what comes out is a very homogeneous and exciting project.

Of course, I absolutely love it because here are some honorable gentlemen involved, that I have a lot of respect for as a musician.

 

Jack Bruce (CREAM)

Leslie is a very warm person, but I think his great talent is the vision that he has when he’s writing the songs, coming up with the ideas. He actually can hear, who’s gonna be doing what, how it’s going to be realized – who’s actually gonna be doing it. That’s a great talent to have. The one who comes to mind, the greatest person who had that kind of talent was Duke Ellington, that I can think of.  What I additionally have with Leslie, is the discipline to be myself and that really helps. Every time we get together it’s something new, something original, something very warm and something that we enjoy very much.”

 

Chris Thompson (MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND)

It’s special in that way, that it’s like nothing else, I guess. We have a great time. I’ve been playing with the band for a long time, they’re good old friends.

 

Steve Bailey

It’s a great group and when I look at the signs on the walls I see a lot of my heroes, besides Anthony Jackson, Victor Bailey was actively involved and you see the Breckers and you see Bill Evans and Cory and you know the list goes on and on. And then you get into people like Phil Collins and Chaka Khan. You know the music, the level of professionality of everybody involved, the level of the recording facilities and then of course there is Leslie. So, by finding the right people and putting them together he makes it one of those rare things.

Regarding the new album, I am only five minutes into it and it’s using all the skills I have. It’s using all of my horsepower, like all of my skills have come into play here.

 

Richard Bona

Leslie is just an amazing not only composer, he’s an amazing all-around musician. All this arranging and producing. He’s got big ears, that’s how I say. And he has that need to bring different worlds, different places together. And Leslie got all that. I love his energy. Coming where he came from is just an amazing story. That’s what makes him being the person he is. To bring all those things together, it’s not just about being that human being that’s got like a wider vision of the whole world. So, I’ve got tremendous respect and a lot of love for Leslie. I love this guy.

This album is not just traditional Béla Bartók. Leslie is taking it to another level now.

When another good musician takes another good musician’s material and work on that, something good will come out of it. And that’s what is happening now, at our new album.

 

Jesse Siebenberg (SUPERTRAMP)

It’s an honor to be asked to participate in this project, and a pleasure to work with these great people and artists. A feather in the cap.

 

Tony Carey

This is a very ambitious project, with some of the best musicians in the world giving amazing performances, with topnotch production! I’m impressed, and I don’t say that very often.

So: well done, kids!

 

David Clayton-Thomas

From the first album it was apparent that these guys are operating on a very high level…production… musicianship…compositions…all world class. I was immediately attracted to the melodies, Leslie’s compositions are pure, elegant and memorable, just a joy to sing. What I enjoy most is the meaningfulness, politically, socially and otherwise – of the Mandoki lyrics. These are really gifted guys and the finest musicians on the planet perform with them. It’s really an honor to record in such fine company.

 

Anthony Jackson

I love not only the music they make, but also the way they make it. It’s good to be a part of it and it’s like a family, where good music is what’s important, and it’s good music here. It is also very rare that I can work with a producer who really pushes it to the limit, wanting to create exceptionally good music. Leslie is one of those fortunate combinations that the English call “muso” producer. So, it’s gratifying to work for a producer like Leslie.”

 

Victor Bailey

I love the groove and the feel of the songs. They are great guys, there is always some really good music. In this particular time, it’s rare to get actually real musicians together and really play, it’s not all machines and programs.

 

Michael Brecker

We enjoy Leslie’s writing and his conception. We enjoy working with him and try to bring our musical sensibilities to it.  It’s really good music, brilliant writing. I especially like the sophisticated harmony structure and also his highly intellectual, poetical lyrics.

 

Chaka Khan

Leslie and myself, we have the same musical DNA and together we can make the best. I’m so happy about this close friendship and the musical, creative collaboration. He’s a true Soulbrother. He is a great human being and that helps to make a great musician. Someone who is very sensitive. He has some kind of magic going on with him. He´s very unique. He can bring people together and pull the best out of people and get everyone to work together. He is like an alchemist. And I love him very much.

 

Nik Kershaw

Leslie is a one-off, he really is! He’s got incredible energy for music. I mean, he roams the world, looking for musicians to get his projects and he really cares about detail and getting things right. And that’s kind of a rare thing nowadays, I think.”

 

Midge Ure

Leslie is one of these guys, who is connected to just about every musician we know, and he manages to pull together a really unique set of musicians. There is no doubt that what Leslie tries to put across is about tolerance in an intolerant world. I think we all strive to send that message out there. And Leslie seems to pull together people who think along the same lines, as I am. So, it’s not just a musical thing, it’s an ethos.

 

David Garrett

Leslie is a great musician. It is a joyful privilege to get to work with him. To me personally, he is somebody, that has achieved something really big and impressive in the last 35 years. He fled his homeland, came to Germany and kind of realized the “American Dream” there, but also internationally because he worked with world renowned musicians. It is truly a “big thing” that he has developed over the last years. To me, he is one of the greats and I’m happy to call him my friend.

 

Udo Lindenberg

He had to flee, it was tough over there. Risking his life, he came to Munich, where we met shortly after his arrival and we all thought: lucky we have him. He’s an excellent musician.
Everything he does also with the Soulmates, where I frequently join them on stage. It’s quite impressive what kind of international stars he assembles. It is amazing how he brings together such an outstanding collection of the world’s best musicians.  Leslie, cool that we have you, no panic and how grateful we are that you managed to get through this tunnel back in the days. It was a wonderful friendship from the beginning and a great artistic collaboration, which continues till today.

 

Phil Collins

We understood each other perfectly with Leslie. He is also a drummer like me. As a fellow drummer, he knows the importance of the rhythm of the thing. He understands what it like is to be a producer and an artist. He was very supportive. He’s a good man.

 

Lionel Richie

We are here in the studio with Leslie, who is an incredible producer, writer. Leslie came to me with this fabulous idea and our collaboration came out very good. Good quality! I love it. We’ll be back!

 

>> READ LESS

Questions & Answers

The lyrics on this double album are political and critical of society. What was the motivation behind this?

The lyrics on this double album are political and critical of society. What was the motivation behind this?

In times of narratives replacing the fair political discourse and ideological ethics prevailing over ethics of responsibility. In these strange times, we all notice that something has totally gone wrong, we search for explanations and something to hold on to, answers to the questions of our times. As soon as cosmopolitan academics like us leave our urban ivory tower and our comfort zone, we will find discussable explanations for the rise of right-wing populism.

Society can only move forward if it is shaped by people who willing to discuss things. There would have been alternatives for many things that have been deemed as having no alternative in the past. However, there simply is no alternative for reinstating political discourse. Therefore, this single-topic, double-concept-album tries to take on the artist’s responsibility of being a thorn in the flesh of our society.

What messages are behind the song Young Rebels?

30 years ago, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Iron Curtain came down, luck rained down from heaven. We had all the possibilities to turn our society into a social market economy based on ecological responsibility, with its people at the heart, with mindfulness prevailing over indifference and humanity over greed.

Maybe we finally ask ourselves how we can allow money to generate money faster than human labor. Our politics driven by public opinion polls does not consider the neither the future, nor fairness for generations to come. Instead, on the contrary, their actions are shortsighted and promote the division of our society on a global scale. We have to stand up for a peaceful and free world, we have to pass on the torch to the next generation, the “Young Rebels.” These “Young Rebels” are facing a colossal task because of our collective failure!

How did the idea of Hungarian Pictures come up and what is the significance of Bartók today? What is the link between the two albums “Living In The Gap and Hungarian Pictures” making it a true double-concept-album?

The idea of Hungarian Pictures was born in a conversation with Greg Lake and Jon Lord. We were rehearsing for the TV-show “50 Years of Rock” and we talked about Béla Bartók’s musical understanding, about his irrepressible appetite to discover something new and to build bridges between different musical genres. For Bartók, cultural diversity represented a great treasure because precisely these differences nurture the development of art.

He mixed traditional melodies from the most diverse regions of the Carpathian plains, thus highlighting the unifying aspects of its peoples and taking a stand against the threat of uprising national socialism. This idea of unification inspired Jon Lord, Greg Lake and me.

It is every artist’s wish to focus on the unifying aspects and to emphasize them. Greg, Jon and I shared the dream of working on the music of Béla Bartók and to see the vision of “Hungarian Pictures” become a reality. Unfortunately, my dear Soulmates Greg and Jon passed away far too early, but I promised to fulfill our mutual idea. With Bartók we want our music to serve the idea of “brotherhood amongst sovereign peoples.” Nowadays, division is the main narrative and it is our duty to find unity and to show it to the world. Last year we wrote three songs, together with my daughter Julia, that illustrate the link between the two albums. The double-album is meant to be understood as an interlinked progressive piece that lasts for two hours beginning with the title song “Living In The Gap” and ending with “The Torch.”

What keeps the Soulmates, that are comprised of international stars and exceptional artists, moving forward after nearly 30 years?

Soulmates is a musical community of shared values. As musical rebels, we feel the urge to raise our voices. Especially in times of echo chambers and filter bubbles, we as artists and freethinkers feel the need to say out loud what we think of the current developments, from our stage or from the studio, especially because of the collective failure of our whole generation. As Soulmates, we passionately embody the spirit of the 70s and live the idealism of the pursuit of freedom and individuality. Faith has blessed us all with good fortune and we truly walk on the bright side of life. Soulmates is our way to give some of that back. We want to return music to its right place: the idealism, the rebellion, the non-conformity.

How do you manage to get together such an impressive line up?

29 years ago, we made an arrangement, that we will only communicate directly, no managers, no lawyers involved, this is the only way to pull it off. When we get together, we all live, cook and discuss together, just like in a shared apartment of musicians. There is no exchange of narratives but a discourse about the future.

VISUAL ALBUM "HUNGARIAN PICTURES"

MUSIC VIDEOS & RADIO SINGLES

Longing for Freedom

Soulmates weekly – part 13 – Version 2

SOULMATES WEEKLY VIDEO BLOG

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John Helliwell

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Happy holidays everyone!

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Message from Al Di Meola

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