Who is Leslie Mandoki and People In Room Number 8? Polymedia

"I'm a passionate dreamer! Whenever I see a peak I want to climb it immediately", says Leslie Mandoki of himself, giving an accurate description of his character. He is a dreamer indeed - even now. Although the Budapest-born musician was already able to fulfil all his dreams like freedom, success or world-wide recognition, he never ceased to formulate new visions. This time his vision has led to the most ambitious, most important but also one of the finest albums of recent pop and rock history, named after the place where the possibly most brilliant rock & jazz musicians of the world came together: "Room No. 8".

What sounds like the address of a conspirators' hideout is in fact Mandoki's recording studio, where among others such high-calibre musicians as Jethro Tull boss Ian Anderson, Cream founder Jack Bruce, Blood, Sweat & Tears frontman David Clayton-Thomas, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, elite jazz musicians like Steve Khan, Al Di Meola,the Brecker Brothers or brilliant performers like Chaka Khan, Joshua Kadison, Nik Kershaw or Peter Maffay made music together. Incidentally, Mandoki may have set a Guinness record, for possibly no other LP has ever been graced by such an impressive credit list of superstars.

The artists performing on "People In Room No. 8" have combined sales of over 350 million sound carriers, 139 gold and 29 platinum records to go along with a remarkable 26 Grammy Awards. To speak in pictures, all CDs put side by side would cover a distance of about 49.000 km, that is more than once around the globe.

But for Mandoki the Guinness Book of Records and staggering sales figures are not what it's all about. Rather,"People In Room No. 8" has let him fulfil his very first dream - a dream which emerged at the back of his mind duringhis youth in Hungary, when he made a name for himself in the rebellious student movement of Budapest as aneloquent fighter and drummer of the jazz-rock formation "Jam". It was as early as then that his present-day partners,keyboarder Laszlo Bencker and guitarist George Kopecsni were his companions.

In the West, Mandoki first became known as a member of the pop group "Dschingis Khan". However, for the three graduates of classical music and passionate rock jazzers, working with musicians like Placido Domingo. Poco or the Brecker Brothers and for record labels like the legendary GRP in New York, or creating soundtracks for films was a more important challenge and became everyday routine. As a session musician, songwriter and producerMandoki worked with the big names in various fields in the most important studios in Munich, London, New York andLos Angeles.

The most recent example is his musical contribution to the new Disney hit "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" or thenew series from "Janosch", one of the most famous Central European cartoonists.

For "People In Room No. 8" the trilingual cosmopolitan has mobilized all the forces at his disposal: his energyreserves, his entire talent, his routine acquired in countless sessions, and all his musician friends he was able towin over for these 16 songs.

"Neither of us did it for the money", says David Clayton-Thomas. Nor did extremely successful Ian Anderson, who interpreted songs written by someone else for the very first time, or Steve Lukather, who only pursues his own projects nowadays, and was jamming here with Bobby Kimball for the first time again since their long-gone Toto-days, or Peter Maffay, whom Mandoki believes to be "Central Europe's best singer", and neither did so Nik Kershaw,the number-one hit singer of the Eighties, who has withdrawn from the front-line of the music business to devote himself mostly to his private life, and to song-writing in his home-studio.

What is it that attracts these eccentric master musicians to make common cause in a Munich studio? Is it just themusic? Certainly, songs like the soulful "The Journey is Long", the jazzy "If We Try", the hip-hop oriented "Diggin'Down Too Deep" or the sunny pop gem "Let The Music Show You The Way" are all very persuasive, thanks to theirspecial musical maturity....

However, the reason may simply be Leslie Mandoki - since characters like him have become a rare breed in the streamlined music business. Always being honest, he says what he thinks and thus makes some people feel uneasy. But above all, and this is perceptible in every bar of "People In Room No. 8", Leslie Mandoki has preserved something no money on earth could buy: a vision - and friends to realize it with.

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