Between A Rock And A Prog Place: MANDOKI SOULMATES' LESLIE MANDOKI On How Prog Is More Important Than Ever – "Prog Rock Is The Answer, Is The Light At The End Of The Tunnel"

April 18, 2024, 3 months ago

By Greg Prato

feature hard rock mandoki soulmates

Between A Rock And A Prog Place: MANDOKI SOULMATES' LESLIE MANDOKI On How Prog Is More Important Than Ever – "Prog Rock Is The Answer, Is The Light At The End Of The Tunnel"

What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer's guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords' monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place. 

In this month's column, Mandoki Soulmates' Leslie Mandoki discusses the group's star-studded album, A Memory Of Our Future, which features contributions by the likes of Ian Anderson, Al Di Meola, and the late Jack Bruce, among others, as well as the important role prog rock has in the year 2024.

How did you go about getting so many wonderful artists involved in the A Memory of Our Future album?

"Actually, it was about 31 years ago, as we basically started with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Jack Bruce of Cream, David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bobby Kimball of Toto, Al Di Meola, Mike Stern, Randy and Michael Brecker, Bill Evans. We really enjoyed to melt the values of British prog rock and American fusion jazz. And after all these albums, we recorded together and the countless shows we played around the world, we have lost some of our members, who joined Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davies in heaven, but got new members, such as Richard Bona, who I got recommended by Quincy Jones during the funeral feast of Jack Bruce, or multi-Grammy winner Cory Henry as the successor of Jon Lord of Deep Purple."

What was the lyrical inspiration behind the song "Blood In The Water"? 

"The dreams of my generation lie in ruins today. After 1989 (the fall of the Berlin Wall), we had such a wonderful, historic opportunity to create a mindful, humane, peaceful and absolutely free world for future generations. But we blew it. Driven by egotism and greed, we have inadvertently enabled the creation of a world where money itself makes profit faster than human labor, no matter the value-added proposition. This devaluation and commodification of people's work has also led to the disregard for sustainability, both economically and environmentally, yielding a climate of social imbalance, inequity, and unrest. This division and radicalization, as we have unfortunately and painfully learned, has even led to war. And so I sing that there is 'blood in the water.' Far too much blood in the water."

Was the song recorded by swapping files online or were some collaborations in person?

"The whole album has been recorded analog (AAA), so all the collaborations were of course in person."

Who were some of your favorite or most memorable appearances by others on the album?

"We have the wonderful artistical luxury that we kept only the memorable and favorite appearances, because this is the beauty and fortune of recording together in the studio, so I cannot really point out anything, because the whole thing is very special."

Will you tour in support of the album? If so, who will be in the band?

"We're going to play a couple of concerts in the summer, and the last period of time we had on stage Al Di Meola and Mike Stern on guitars, Richard Bona on bass, Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, Till Brönner and John Helliwell in our horn section, Tony Carey and Nick van Eede with me as the lead singers, and we'll play this summer in the same or very similar lineup."

Who are some of your favorite prog artists?

"Definitely Ian Anderson, Jack Bruce for sure, Jon Anderson of Yes, my dear friend Phil Collins, just to name a few. Especially Ian, who was always a guide in many ways. No one was really such holistically in his doing."

Is prog alive and well in 2024?

"We feel like, yes. We're living in a divided world and a labyrinth of crisis, where the compass seems to be lost. Prog rock is the answer, is the light at the end of the tunnel.

“As in our song 'Devil's Encyclopedia' stated: 'When words fail, music speaks'."

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A PROG PLACE NEWS BLAST

Art-rock/prog-rock veterans 10cc has announced The Ultimate Greatest Hits Tour, which will be the British group's first in over three decades – beginning on July 24 and running through August 17th. The prog supergroup Transatlantic (featuring members Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas) will be issuing a mammoth Limited 5CD + 2 Blu-ray artbook set on April 26 entitled Live at Morsefest 2022: The Absolute Whirlwind.

Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess recently signed to InsideOut Music and will be issuing a new solo album later this year (as well as issuing a new single, "Embers, which can be enjoyed below). Prog power trio Six by Six (consisting of Ian Crichton, Nigel Glockler and Robert Berry) will be returning on April 26th with their sophomore effort, Beyond Shadowland.

Symphonic metallists Elvellon will return on May 17 with their sophomore effort, Ascending in Synergy, which is available for pre-order. Norwegian prog metallists Rendezvous Point has issued their first new single in five years, "Don't Look Up," but you can look down to view.

Symphonic metallists Kamelot will be launching a North American tour from April 25-May 25, the Awaken the World Tour, for which VIP packages are also available. Sweden's Evergrey recently issued a new video for their tune 'Ominous,'  from their latest album, A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament).

APRIL 2024 NEW ALBUMS

April 5
Hawkwind- Stories From Time and Space
Korpiklaani- Rankarumpu
Yes- Mirror To The Sky (expanded 2CD/Blu-ray reissue)

April 12
Emerson Lake And Powell- The Complete Collection (3CD set)
John Lodge- Days Of Future Passed: My Sojourn

April 19
Various Artists- Reimagining The Court Of The Crimson King

April 26
Ou- II: Frailty
Renaissance- Tuscany (expanded 3CD set)
Six By Six- Beyond Shadowland
Transatlantic- Live At Morsefest 2022: The Absolute Whirlwind

CLASSIC CLIP

Who says that prog couldn't also be disguised as pop? 10cc (who as mentioned above, will soon be launching their first North American tour in decades) were one of the few who could disguise themselves, as evidenced by such soft rock tunes as "I'm Not In Love," which topped the UK charts in 1975.



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