It’s very likely that you’ve never heard Leslie Mandoki, and he’s ok with that.
“Everybody thinks in Europe that I’m crazy. You reload and restart your life in America, but I love America so much.”
It’s likely you’ve heard Peter Frampton, Ian Anderson, Randy Brecker, Al Di Meola. Those are only a few of the iconic musicians that have performed as a part of the interchangeable super group Man Doki Soulmates.
“I’m a very, very lucky boy. Because all of these legendary, iconic singers and players are the leaders themselves in their own act. So, they know too well that egos can destroy a lot in a band.”
Percussionist-composer Leslie Mandoki, born in Soviet occupied Hungary, fled the country for Germany in 1975 to secure musical freedom. It was sound advice from his dying father.
“He said, ‘Wait a minute, the Iron Curtain is not for you my son. Don’t dream your life, live your dreams.”
Mandoki’s love for American jazz and British rock turned into a career as a songwriter and studio musician. The relationships he made along the way presented the opportunity to create Man Doki Soulmates, like friends asking friends to be in a band.
“This music we play, this ‘jazz-rock,’ it’s not jazz, it’s not rock, it’s a progressive rock,” said Mandoki. “The rock guys like Steve Lukather say it’s rock music with a jazz sensibility. The jazz [musicians] say it’s jazz with a pop sensibility. Social, political, meaningful lyrics, very complex structures but kind of easy going melodies.”
Over twenty-five years on, Mandoki Soulmates makes its way to New York City, in celebration of Grammy Week. It’s a benefit for the Recording Academy’s MusiCares Foundation.
“January 29th at the Beacon Theater you will hear a concert like you’ve never heard before and you will never hear again if you don’t follow us. There’s going to be a bunch of idealistic, iconic legends joining the fun and joy of meaningful music.”
Mandoki is partially joking when he says you’ll never hear Soulmates again. He's weighing options on a nationwide tour as his first appearance in New York City awaits.