Primarily recognized as an award-winning jazz vibraphonist, Mike Mainieri’s equally remarkable talents as producer, performer, arranger, and composer have contributed to shaping the cutting edge in music.
During the ‘50s and early ‘60s, he performed with such legendary artists as Buddy Rich, Billie Holliday, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and Wes Montgomery. At the age of 20, he won Downbeat’s International Jazz Critic’s Award.
In 1962, he joined the ground-breaking jazz/rock group Jeremy & the Satyrs led by flutist Jeremy Steig. The Satyrs appeared at New York’s Club A-GoGo, and performed with such monumental figures as Frank Zappa, Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix. During the late ‘60s, this small circle of performers grew into what became known as the White Elephant Orchestra, a 20-piece, all-star, experimental ensemble. The group featured such soloists Michael Brecker, Ronny Cuber, Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff and Randy Brecker.
In the late 70s, Mike founded the pioneering jazz/fusion group Steps Ahead, which included previous cohorts Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd and Don Grolnick. Delving into contemporary sounds while maintaining experimental sounds and compositional integrity, Steps Ahead was and is a launching pad for young talent and new musical ideas.
Steps ‘alumni’ include appearances by such notable artists as:
Saxophonists: Michael Brecker, Bendik Hofseth, Rick Margitza, Donny McCaslin, Bob Mintzer, Bob Berg, Bill Evans
Pianists: Don Grolnick, Warren Bernhardt, Eliane Elias, Kenny Kirkland, Rachel Z, George Whitty, Mitch Forman, Robbie Kilgore, George Whitty, Dave Kikoski, Joey Calderazzo
Guitarists: Mike Stern, Steve Khan, Chuck Loeb, Hiram Bullock, Dean Brown, Paul Jackson, Wayne Krantz, Jimi Tunnell
Bassists: Eddie Gomez, Tom Kennedy,Victor Bailey, Daryl Jones, Tony Levin, Jeff Andrews, James Genus, Baron Browne, Richie Goods, Marc Johnson, Ed Howard, Larry Grenadier, Scott Colley, Richard Bona
Drummers: Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine, Steve Smith, Rodney Holmes, Billy Kilson, Clarance Penn, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Ben Perosky
Vocalists: Dianne Reeves, Bobby McFerrin, Richard Bona
Other noteworthy jazz collaborations have included recordings with Joe Henderson, Art Farmer, Dave Liebman, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Joe Lovano, Jim Hall and Jane Monheit.
As a composer, arranger and performer, Mike has contributed to over 100 gold and platinum albums. An active participant in the rock and pop scenes, Mike produced and co-wrote three albums with Carly Simon, and recorded with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Janis Ian, James Taylor, Dire Straits, Bonnie Raitt, George Benson, and on Don McClean’s classic album: American Pie.
In 1991, Mike brought to bear his vast experience with the creation of his own Jazz label NYC Records. The independent label is a vehicle for exposing new and established artists such as vocalist Luciana Souza, pianist Rachel Z, alto saxophonist Myron Walden and legendary tenor saxophonist, George Garzone. Mike is still active touring worldwide with his group Steps Ahead, guesting in workshops and various recording projects.