NYC Records
White Elephant

Mike Mainieri and Friends



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Mike Mainieri: Arranger, Conductor, Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Joe Beck: Guitar
Warren Bernhardt: Keyboards
Michael Brecker: Tenor Saxophone
Randy Brecker: Trumpet
Sam Brown: Guitar
Ronny Cuber: Baritone Saxophone
John Faddis: Trumpet
Steve Gadd: Drums
Nick Holmes: Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Tony Levin: Bass
Sue Manchester: Vocals
Bob Mann: Guitar
Hugh McCracken: Guitar
Donald MacDonald: Drums
Paul Metzke: Guitar
Nat Pavone: Trumpet
Jon Pierson: Bass Trombone, Vocals
Barry Rodgers: Tenor Trombone
Lew Soloff: Trumpet
David Spinozza: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Ann E. Sutton: Vocals
Frank Vicari: Tenor Saxophone
George Young: Alto Saxophone

The music embodied in these volumes are a collection of recordings from rehearsals, jam sessions and record dates that took place between 1969-1972, at various studios in New York City, usually beginning around 10 or 11 at night, and continuing until the early morning hours. Under my direction, these sessions were a continuing process of experimentation with the interaction of various musical forms. There were an opportunity to exchange musical, philosphical and political concepts, and a place to hang out, get hig, coolout from a day recording sessions or gather after a nightly gig. For many of us, it became an Oasis in the middle of the City.

The first rehearsals initially began in 1965, with a small circle of members from the Jeremy Steig group “The Satyrs.” They included pianist Warren Bernhardt, acoustic bassist Hal Galor (later replaced by Eddie Gomez, and then electric bassist Tony Levin), drummer and resident guru Donald MacDonald, guitarist Joe Beck, and myself. By 1969, this ensemble gradually grew into what became a ‘tribal experience.’ Our wives, husbands, friends, lovers and children were as important to the experience as the music itself. After all, it was the 60s.

Some nights only a few stragglers would arrive, but there were many nights 20 or 30 hippies would play, sing and dance until we shook the 50s out of our skins. The musical ideas were launched from single sketches and vamps that would sometimes last for nearly an hour: changing shape, tempos and soloists, depending on who suddenly fell by or split. Everyone had a choice to blow, sing, or perform spoken word.
Perhaps the makeshift lyrics on some of the ‘shouts’ seem na├»ve and a little corny now, but they were sung as an affirmation as to why we were there together. The experience was ours, and it bonded us for life.

On a few occasions, the White Elephant Band performed in public as a 23 piece group, but that ‘Elephant’ wasn’t designed to fly. Instead, this ‘tribal experience’ spawned several permutations that proliferated in smaller ensembles. Dreams, Ars Nova, The Brecker Brothers, L’Image and Steps Ahead, were a few of the goups that followed.

I hope the music contained in these recordings brings you back to that special time, and allows you to reflect on the mmuicians involved, who have played an instrumental part in my life.

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