Leslie Mandoki is touring Germany with his Soulmates this autumn. These will include Supertramps John Helliwell, ex-Earth band singer Chris Thompson, ex-Toto singer Bobby Kimball, trumpeterass Till Brönner and many other big names. They will then present the new Soulmates double album that producer Leslie Mandoki is currently mixing. Until then fans can tune in to the just released double Blu-ray "Wings Of Freedom".
In 1975, at the age of 22, Leslie Mandoki fled Communist Hungary and his first concert in West Germany was a performance by Udo Lindenberg. After several years as a showcase mongolian for Genghis Khan in the world of hits, the experienced drummer built up a reputation as a stylish producer (from Jennifer Rush to Phil Collins and Lionel Richie to Andreas Bourani). But his real dream came true with the bandleader project Mandoki Soulmates. Here he gathers a changing crowd of illustrious musicians around him. The upcoming tour will include Mandoki Chris Thompson, Nick Van Eede, Bobby Kimball, Jesse Siebenberg, Tony Carey, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Till Brönner, John Helliwell, Bill Evans and Richard Bona. Together they play jazz rock in the spirit of the 70s. Leslie Mandoki himself sees himself as a bridge builder - between rock and jazz, East and West, but also between music, politics and industry.
eclipsed: When did the whole Soulmates project start?
Leslie Mandoki: I grew up behind the Iron Curtain and was the music-political mouthpiece of the student opposition movement at the time. We did not want to abolish freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom to travel, and basically not even socialism. I had the influential jazz rock band Jam who got many invitations from the West. My heroes were Jack Bruce, Ian Anderson and Al Di Meola. When I escaped through a tunnel in 1975, I was asked at the end of my asylum application what I wanted to do here, and I said that I wanted to play exactly with these musicians.
eclipsed: How do you always manage to get such an impressive line-up together?
Mandoki: On the bonus section of the Blu-ray "Wings Of Freedom" the musicians themselves give information why they play with me. Ian Anderson, David Clayton-Thomas, Bobby Kimball, Jack Bruce, Al Di Meola, Bill Evans of Miles Davis' band and the Brecker Brothers formed the first Soulmates line-up. Later John Helliwell, Jon Lord and Greg Lake joined. When Jack Bruce said we were just a boy group, we unanimously added Chaka Khan.
eclipsed: The current brass band alone is its own star: Supertramp, Brecker Brothers, Passport, Evans and Till Brönner in one boat, so to speak.
Mandoki: I write the base and Randy Brecker works out the arrangements. Now Klaus Doldinger is also there. I had met him directly when I came out of the refugee camp. I got his number from an eastern european jazz festival.