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Mandoki Soulmates: Living in the Gap/Hungarian Pictures

Mandoki Soulmates is the musical conglomerate founded by vocalist/drummer Leslie Mandoki that has included a wide variety of musicians & vocalists since their inception in 1991, including such notable players as Ian Anderson, Jack Bruce, and Al DiMeola among many others. The band are now releasing not one, but two new albums as one set, titled Living in the Gap/Hungarian Pictures as a 2CD set. Along with Mr. Mandoki, this sprawling set of new music features Bobby Kimball (Toto), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann's Earth Band), Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), the late Jack Bruce (Cream), Mike Stern, Al DiMeola, Randy Brecker, David Clayton Thomas, Bill Evans, Simon Phillips, Tony Carey, Richard Bona, and many more.With a mix of pop, jazz-fusion, prog-rock, and World Music, both albums are lively and come across as the 'all-star' collaborations that they are on paper.

Living In the Gap features a wealth of stunning tracks, and it's the collaborative part that really impresses, like the catchy, soaring "Let the Music Show You the Way", with Clayton-Thomas, Thompson and Anderson all singing together, flutes and sax lovingly saddling side by side as Mandoki's gentle percussion percolates underneath. Brecker is always a pleasure, and he makes his presence known on the groove laden "Too Much Pride", while "Welcome to Real Life" attacks with jazz subtlety (love those blazing DiMeola acoustic guitar solos) and hard rock firepower thanks to some heavy riffs and wild Hammond organ flourishes. Hungarian Pictures kicks off with "Sessions in the Village", a mix of piano led jazz that morphs into a classic '70s prog excursion, and the big statement here is "Transylvania Dances" an exotic blend of jazz, classical, and Middle Eastern themes, DiMeola again dropping in some tasty picking surrounded by all sorts of lovely flutes, woodwinds, and strings before the full band come in for a vibrant and raucous finale. "Return to Budapest" recall's Tull's classic track "Budapest" in spots, a highly majestic number with alluring instrumentation and vocals, while "Barbaro" and "The Torch" offer up soaring pop melodies with rock and jazz arrangements.

Leslie Mandoki and Co. have put together a stellar presentation here, not only the music but the accompanying booklet (and the eye opening rest of the package that we were!) as well which provides lyrics, photos, and full synopsis of the entire project. If you love all-star collaborations such as Ayreon and Avantasia, but are looking for something more in a prog & jazz space, Mandoki Soulmates will be right up your alley.

Track Listing
Living In The Gap
1-1 Living In The Gap 7:06
1-2 Young Rebels 4:25
1-3 Turn The Wind 5:17
1-4 Where We Belong 5:05
1-5 Let The Music Show You The Way 4:12
1-6 Too Much Pride 6:54
1-7 Old Rebels 4:43
1-8 Welcome To Real Life 7:45
1-9 Hottest Queen Of Cool 3:46
1-10 Wake Up 4:25
1-11 Mother Europe 3:40
1-12 I'm Not Your Enemy 8:47

Hungarian Pictures
2-1 Sessions In The Village 6:50
2-2 Utopia For Realists 2:09
2-3 Transylvanian Dances 19:02
2-4 You'll Find Me In Your Mirror 2:35
2-5 Return To Budapest 4:36
2-6 Barbaro 4:32
2-7 The Torch 5:51

Added: December 16th 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 90
Language: english

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