Published on January 5th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
The ManDoki Soulmates’ Leslie Mandoki On His January 29, 2018 MusiCares Benefit Concert, and more
The ManDoki Soulmates is a star-studded band led by world-renowned German-Hungarian musician, producer and songwriter Leslie Mandoki. While famous all over the world, The ManDoki Soulmates have never played a concert in the United States. That changes on January 29, 2018 when Mandoki and group headline the Beacon Theatre in New York City for a Wings Of Freedom post-Grammy concert. Among the rock and jazz music greats joining Mandoki on-stage will be Toto’s Bobby Kimball, Supertramp’s John Helliwell, Crowded House’s Mark Hart, Manfred Mann’s Chris Thompson, Cutting Crew’s Nick Van Eede,Randy Brecker, Cory Henry, and Julia Mandoki. The event will benefit the MusiCares Foundation, which supports members of the music community in need.
To learn more about the past, present and future of The ManDoki Soulmates, I spoke with leader Leslie Mandoki, whose honors include the Medal for Extraordinary Merits for Bavaria in a United Europe and the MIDEM 2017 Achievement Award. Leslie Mandoki can be visited online directly at www.mandoki.net.
For someone who hasn’t seen The ManDoki Soulmates live before, what should they be expecting at The Beacon Theater?
Leslie Mandoki: The ManDoki Soulmates 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 improvisions.
Will you be playing any hits by other musicians like Bobby Kimball or Randy Brecker? Or will you entirely be playing songs by The ManDoki Soulmates?
Leslie Mandoki: For 25 years, I have united these legendary icons of Anglo-American rock and jazz-rock in the ManDoki Soulmates band, recording new music and performing live together as one band. These are the best of the best, combining sophisticated and progressive Rock roots with modern jazz influences, along with fresh interpretations of classic hits from individual Soulmates. So yes, we do focus on our own songs, but we also play unique versions of the big classic hits of each of the Soulmates in our three-hour sets.
Do you have a favorite song to play live?
Leslie Mandoki: Yes, we have chosen all my favorite songs for this three-hour set.
This will be your first-ever concert in the United States. What made you select The Beacon Theatre?
Leslie Mandoki: We are very pleased about the honor and privilege to play at The Beacon Theatre. On this year’s concert tour, Wings Of Freedom, there were five concerts played to packed houses at the iconic venues of L‘Olympia in Paris, the Hammersmith Apollo in London, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, and at Budapest Park, where the ManDoki Soulmates returned for the 25th anniversary of the Sziget Festival. It was only natural to go to The Beacon Theatre as this is an equally prestigious and iconic venue.
How did you start working with MusiCares?
Leslie Mandoki: Charity is always very important to us, for good reasons. Our music is a handwritten love letter to our audience and not a text message. We care about personal, honest connections through music. The love from the audience in the room when we play our shows warms our hearts, so it is only natural to try to give something back to other members of the music community, who are less fortunate. MusiCares is the right partner, as they support members of the music community in need.
Have you ever visited New York before for fun?
Leslie Mandoki: Yes, I have been there about 50 times. I think New York is the capital of mankind, a cultural melting pot every musician and artist feels very attracted to. I’ve recorded and worked there, but I never had the honor to play one of the stages in the city. Many of my close friends are New Yorkers like Randy Brecker, Bill Evans, Al Di Meola, Cory Henry, Mike Stern, Anthony Jackson, and the late Victor Bailey.
Is there a destination or place you hope to visit while coming to New York on this trip?
Leslie Mandoki: To me, New York is ever-changing and always rediscovering itself. This year alone, I have been there six times and every time I discover something new. All three of my kids love New York. My son Gabor, who is producing the show, my daughter Julia, who is singing on stage with us, and my oldest daughter Lara, who is a great, famous actress in Germany. We love New York so much that I am going to celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary with my wife there, one day after the show.
Besides this concert in January, what is coming up for you in your career?
Leslie Mandoki: Countless great projects like last year. It was a fabulous year. In fact, during the last 40 years, every year was better than the one before. It’s going to be difficult in 2018, because 2017 was such an excellent year, with so many top end projects like our book and arthouse documentary Longing For Freedom, our Wings Of Freedom tour and our collaborations with 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.
You have collaborated with many legends, but is there someone you are still hoping to tour or record with?
Leslie Mandoki: 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.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Leslie Mandoki: With my kids. Most happily, we meet on the lake where we have a waterfront property about one mile from my studio complex and it is wonderful to be on the water.
What was your favorite album of 2017?
Leslie Mandoki: Too many. A great musical year, a long list of great, new and fresh music.
Finally, Leslie, any last words for the kids?
Leslie Mandoki: My advice is the same my father gave me on his deathbed: “Don’t dream your life, but live your dreams.” I have learned that dreams can only fly on the wings of freedom, that’s why I called the tour this way.Tweet