For the first time in his long storied musical career, Leslie Mandoki brought his Mandoki Soulmates ‘Wings of Freedom’ tour to New York City. Even though he has been to New York several times before, recording with artists such legendary Al Di Meola and Randy Brecker, Monday (1-29-18) at the Beacon Theater was a big night for Mandoki and his band of several Grammy Award-winning “soulmate” players. With zeal and a hunger to entertain, Mandoki and the Soulmates served an eclectic range of songs that crossed the spectrum of jazz, pop, funk, hard rock, blues, and Hungarian flavored rock—with special appearance by Hungarian legend, Charlie.
Between melodies, Mandoki retold childhood stories of his upbringing in Communist Hungary, his passion for freedom in the West, and the American Dream that seemed to exist on some distant shore just out of reach. In meeting with bands, such as Cream and Jethro Tull, Mandoki realized his dream and immigrated to Munich, Germany, in 1975. In Bavaria, he found a new home and the Soulmates project, which he founded in 1992, attracting unmatched talent in singers, songwriters, lyricists, percussionists—Mandoki was one of two drummers at the concert—guitarists, piano, horns and synthesizers, and a bevy of singers, including his daughter, Julia Mandoki. His son, Gabor Mandoki, brilliantly produced the show.
At the Beacon Theater, Mandoki reminded the audience to, “Live your dream, and not dream your life.” The audience, made up of Americans, Hungarians and Bavarian-Germans, was skewed in age with genre music from the 1970s (“Blinded by the Light”) and 1980s (“Rosanna”), among other hits. With music being the cultural bridge between people, all airs and agendas dropped and the simple messages of freedom and fulfilling one’s dream resonated.
Jan Danisman, Executive Director of Bavarian U.S. Offices for Economic Development, said of the evening: “I have never seen a more heartfelt performer as Leslie Mandoki. I think everyone in the audience walked out of the Beacon Theater Monday night somehow feeling a special bond with this passionate artist and dreamer.”
With New York the grand stage, the Bavaria-Hungary nexus delivered a splendid evening for all.
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