CD REVIEW – UTOPIA FOR REALISTS : HUNGARIAN PICTURES – by MANDOKI SOULMATES

by Aaron Gidney

Originally released in 2019, this expanded reissue is rereleased on 24 September 2021 via InsideOut Music. Brainchild of the Hungarian Vocalist/Percussionist, Leslie Mandoki, Mandoki Soulmates features an all-star cast including Ian Anderson, Al Di Meoloa, Mike Stern, Jack Bruce and Bobby Kimball to name a few.

Hungarian Pictures is a Prog-Rock suite that was originally part of a double album with ‘Living In The Gap’. Bandleader Leslie Mandoki comments: “It is about generational justice. We will only master the global challenges – pandemic, financial and economic crisis, migration and integration, climate change – if we overcome the divisions across all borders, the old rebels and the young rebels together.”

This is classical Symphonic Prog at it’s finest and offers many different facets. With Jazz/Fusion stars such as Di Meola and Stern, there’s a nice mix of flamenco and Jazz guitar not often associated with classical Prog. There’s also plenty of Eastern European influences at the heart of this beautifully-thought out suite. The first ideas of the suite came to Mandoki following some concerts in China when he decamped to Bali and prepared to deliver the most ambitious project the Mandoki Soulmates had ever done. Some of the themes come courtesy of Bartök and the songs are built around those themes, including some ideas that had been worked with Greg Lake and Jon Lord before their untimely passings.

The expanded set comes complete with a Blu-Ray of a concert film to celebrate 30 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall plus behind the scenes features.

There’s plenty for Prog-Rock purists to get their teeth into, particularly given the veritable plethora of Prog Royalty associated with this. It’s also nice to hear brass and woodwind arrangements interwoven into traditional classical Symphonic Prog to set this apart from all others.

Well worthy of some investment both aurally and visually with this nicely packaged expanded rerelease.

Tracks:

1. Sessions In The Village
2. Utopia For Realists
3. Transylvanian Dances
4. You’ll Find Me In Your Mirror 5. Return To Budapest 6. Barbaro
7. The Torch

Line-up:

Leslie Mandoki – Vocals, Drums, Percussion & Udu Bobby Kimball – Vocals
Chris Thompson – Vocals
Ian Anderson – Vocals & Flute

Jack Bruce – Bass & Vocals
Nick Van Eede – Vocals & Guitar
David Clayton-Thomas – Vocals
Al Di Meola – Guitar
Mike Stern – Guitar
Randy Brecker – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Bill Evans – Tenor & Soprano Saxophone
John Helliwell – Clarinet, Tenor, Soprano & Alto Saxophone Till Brönner– Trumpet
Cory Henry – Hammond, Rhodes & Moog
Tony Carey – Vocals, Hammond & Piano
Jesse Siebenberg – Vocals, Keyboards & Piano
Richard Bona – Bass & Vocals
Steve Bailey – 6-string Fretless Bass
Julia Mandoki – Vocals

Online: https://www.insideoutmusic.com/artists/mandoki-soulmates/

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