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Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States

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Mandrill biography
Mandrill was formed in Brooklyn in 1968 by three multi-instrumentalist brothers, Louis, Richard and Carlos Wilson, all of whom originally hailed from Panama. After running an ad in the Village Voice they were soon joined by Omar Mesa, Claude Cave, Charlie Padro and Bundie Cenac. Between them this seven man group could play over 20 instruments. Although often labeled a funk or RnB band, Mandrill is much more than just that. Their music combines those two genres with jazz, rock, classic Latin music, and styles of their own creation, often mixing all this together in the same song. Their albums are often composed of multi-movement songs that blend together to make a long running urban tone poem. In concert, their songs are often taken to great lengths with creative improvisations.

Although different band members have come and gone over the years, the three original brothers still remain, and they are often joined onstage by their musically talented children. Mandrill continues to tour and record to this day, inspiring many with their complex rhythms, arrangements and lyrics about spirituality, peace, love and brotherhood.

- Easy Money -


-Mandrill (1971)
-Mandrill Is (1972)
-Composite Truth (1973)
-Just Outside of Town (1973)
-Mandrillland (1974)
-Solid (1975)
-Beast From the East (1975)
-Best Of (1975)
-We Are One (1977)
-New Worlds (1978)
-Getting in the Mood (1980)
-Fencewalk: The Anthology (1997)
-Ultimate Collection (2000)
-Mandrill Live @ Montreaux (2002) CD
-Mandrill Live @ Montraux (2002) DVD

Mandrill official website

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MANDRILL Videos (YouTube and more)

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The Best of MandrillThe Best of Mandrill
INgrooves Fontana/Polydor 1988
Audio CD$5.66
$3.36 (used)
Composite Truth / Just Outside of TownComposite Truth / Just Outside of Town
Imports 2014
Audio CD$10.04
$10.03 (used)
Single · Import
Attic 2002
Audio CD$8.19
$58.94 (used)
Mandrill - Solid (CD)Mandrill - Solid (CD)
Limited Collector's Edition · Import
Tone Arm 7339324400252
Audio CD$24.49
$23.49 (used)
Fencewalk: The Anthology [2 CD]Fencewalk: The Anthology [2 CD]
INgrooves Fontana/Polydor 1997
Audio CD$27.73
$32.45 (used)
Just Outside of TownJust Outside of Town
Imports 2015
Audio CD$5.43
$7.07 (used)
We Are OneWe Are One
Cherry Red UK 2013
Audio CD$6.12
$6.16 (used)
New Worlds / Gettin' in the MoodNew Worlds / Gettin' in the Mood
Soul Brothers Records 2009
Audio CD$9.58
$9.59 (used)
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MANDRILL IS LP Ape Is High Git It All Universal Rhythms Central Park Cohelo 1972 USD $22.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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Mandrill 12" Having A Love Attack Disco Funk 1978 Arista Promo LP Hear It USD $7.00 Buy It Now 4 days
MANDRILL 1971 debut LP Funk Soul Jazz Rock Latin 244050 Rollin' On Warning Blues USD $19.99 Buy It Now 4 days
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MANDRILL Solid LP United Artists UA-LA408-G (1975) Funk-Soul w/lyrics USD $6.79 Buy It Now 5 days
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autographed MANDRILL We Are 1 CLAUDE COFFEE CAVE signed USD $14.99 Buy It Now 6 days
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MANDRILL Beast From The East 1975 FUNK / MODERN SOUL LP USD $15.00 Buy It Now 6 days
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MANDRILL USD $12.99 Buy It Now 7 days
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MANDRILL Beast From The East UNITED ARTISTS ULA577-G Original Funk Soul LP inner USD $11.95 Buy It Now 7 days
Mandrill Panama / Disco Lypso (15308) 7" Single 1976 United Artists UP 36103 USD $5.39 Buy It Now 7 days
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Mandrill-Put Your Money Where The Funk Is-Shrink 12" USD $4.99 Buy It Now 8 days
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MANDRILL discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

MANDRILL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 16 ratings
4.00 | 12 ratings
Mandrill Is
3.96 | 7 ratings
Composite Truth
3.16 | 6 ratings
Just Outside Of Town
4.00 | 5 ratings
3.10 | 2 ratings
3.10 | 2 ratings
Beast From The East
3.00 | 2 ratings
We Are One
2.00 | 1 ratings
New Worlds
1.00 | 2 ratings
Getting In The Mood
3.00 | 2 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings

MANDRILL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Live At Montreaux 2002

MANDRILL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Live at Montreux 2002

MANDRILL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Mandrill
3.50 | 2 ratings
Fencewalk: The Anthology

MANDRILL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mandrill by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.02 | 16 ratings

Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by PROGMAN1

5 stars According to the liner notes, this album was recorded in the winter of 1970. This is fairly astounding given the fact that it would make this one of the earliest (if not the first ever) incidence of a side-long, multi-movement, progressive rock suite. The piece in question being side two's Peace and Love (Amani Na Mapenzi) clocking in at over seventeen minutes. As for what it sounds like, it is quite advanced for 1970 to be sure, including many styles of music from symphonic to African to jazz to Latin, even a touch of the avant-garde and Mellotron! As mentioned in previous reviews, the sparse lyrics are a powerful Vietnam war-era statement of biblical proportions. To be sure, the band's general approach was not of side-long symphonic rock suites, though on later albums it was not unusual for them to use odd time signatures and compose long-ish multi-movement rock pieces. The prog fan will find at least one piece on each of their first 5 albums to satisfy that prog itch. Given the date of this, their debut album, and the phenomenal side long suite, this is a solid 4.5 stars leaning toward 5. Side one opens with the eponymous rocker Mandrill, a Latin rock scorcher as great as Santana ever composed. The side is rounded out with Warning Blues, Symphonic Revolution and Rollin' On. Warning Blues is mainly an up-tempo blues rock piece with interesting breaks but fairly typical of the era. Symphonic Revolution is a mellow piece with excellent, atmospheric flute and organ playing by Carlos Wilson and Claude Cave respectively. These two musicians are quite exceptional but then the strength of Mandrill lies in the skill of all the musicians.

The guitarist, Omar Mesa is truly unsung and embodies the lyricism and feel of the most elite guitarists of the prog era. Yes, he is that great. The three brothers who play the wind instruments rival the best horn sections of the era including Tower of Power, Chicago and B, S & T. The rhythm section of Neftali Santiago and Fudgie Kae which eventually became the classic rhythm section of Mandrill are phenomenally tight through the acrobatic, complex unison lines and rhythmic changes occurring in many of their songs. All things considered; even though Mandrill are not a typical prog band like Yes or Genesis, there is plenty of fantastic music, some of which is prog, for the exquisite enjoyment of the eclectic prog fan.

 The Best Of Mandrill by MANDRILL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.00 | 1 ratings

The Best Of Mandrill
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gooner
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars A great intro and maybe an outro for the group Mandrill. It might be all of the Mandrill you will ever need. Similar to the works of Santana, War, Malo, Tower Of Power, Cymande, early-Osibisa and Chase. Slightly more on the funk side of things, though. Not unlike Funkadelic musically (but without the buzzed out George Clinton circus/sideshow) This compilation kicks it off with their 2 best known tracks in "Ape Is High" and "Fencewalk". Recommended for fans of jazz/rock fusion and funk. For the actual albums, I recommend the first, second and third Mandrill recordings.
 Getting In The Mood by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.00 | 2 ratings

Getting In The Mood
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

1 stars Unlike their previous album, this scandalous piece of crap was not hiding behind a deceptive artwork and title, and we have a disgusting disco album in all its splendour aptly/badly named Getting' Into The Mood (for puking, maybe???). Not that Mandrill was doing worse than groups like EW&F, K&tG or Chic, but we arte a far cry from their early superb works. Grandeur et decadence: a textbook case.

Just read my review of their preceding album and multiply the negative traits and multiply by five and you've got an idea how bad this album is. Sure with the years and decades having gone by, this type of dance music sounds almost listenable, but it is only because the 80's & 90's dance scene stinks some 20 times worse than the disco fad did. Avoid at all costs: if I took the time to write this review, it's so you avoid such bad moves. All remunerative thanks for my precious time-sacrifice can be forwarded to me via the PA admins. Don't forget to be generous, even if I only rented the album, and returned it with a nice lump of dung spread of the each side's grooves.

 New Worlds by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.00 | 1 ratings

New Worlds
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
2 stars Despite its "prog artwork" cover and hope-inducing album title, New Worlds was anything but proggy despite some tracks being technically impressive funk, but on the whole the album is a big deception for demanding music fans. Mandrill, like most other US "coloured groups" (can't really call them "black", since there are Latino/Puerto-Ricans in their ranks), they fell in the disco trap that engulfed many decent funk groups like Earth Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang (listen to their early 70's stuff to see how proggy they were) and many others, they happily obliged to follow the example of Chic's mix of sometimes-excellent super-funk and downright disgusting binary-disco ala Donna Summer etc? The only groups resisting that trend was WAR and Clinton's Funkadelic.

Sure, there are remains of the former Mandrill with some (few) good tracks, (there is even one with a decent flute intervention) but the album is mostly filled of soul/Motown ballads (the opening Too Late & When You Smile) filled with those luscious Philadelphia-based string arrangements (instead of mellotrons), some ultra-funk but disco-ing tracks (Mean Streets, Love Attack & Stay Tonite) with typical horn section but often marred with an horrible binary disco beat (which is an oxymoron with good funk, if you ask me) and downright-awful straight disco tracks (Don't Stop & Easy Loving You). There is even a Latino/Bossa track (Third World Girl), but it only brings the listener to more regrets of what the group became.

When I speak of this binary rhythm, I am mostly thinking of the 1-2 tempos invented for the most hopeless and sorriest excuses of dancing white males to get them too boogie on a dance floor), but in Mandrill and Chic's case, this basic rhythm is often deceptively simple, because behind that beat is often a lot more complex rhythm than it appears at first glance:audition. In any case, certainly not Mandrill's best works, and better avoided unless you actually like the 70's disco scene. And I'm certainly not one of them, although I'll round this album's rating to the upper star.

 Mandrill Is by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.00 | 12 ratings

Mandrill Is
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Second album of possibly most progressive funk band from early 70-s. With new bassist, band recorded that album with more jazz-rock elements, including some heavy guitar riffing. Still heavily based on funk, the album includes r'n'b, jazz-rock and Latin jazz almost in equal proportions. Plus some blues and psychedelia.

Compositions varies from Santana-like Latin percussion filled nice sambas, to heavy Brooklyn funk, to early jazz-rock guitar -led pieces. But main ingredient is Wilson brothers brass trio, all other sounds are just turning around.

Differently from other more straightforward funk bands of their time, Mandrill music is build far not only around rhythm. Nice melodies, some experimental (to time) sounds and constructions. Not everything goes successfully there: some speaking vocals or lightweight danceable rhythms don't add too much for band's mix.

But in whole, I believe this album is really interesting and successful evidence of progressive funk searches in early 70-s.

 Mandrill by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.02 | 16 ratings

Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Progressive Rock with an African flavor. I can remember the first time I saw Mandrill on TV back in the early 70s; I was totally captured, not only by the music, but by the colorful appearance of this ensemble and the incredible number of instruments they could play. Early Mandrill was always an extended exotic fantasy of sprawling progressive arrangements featuring horns, percussion, screaming guitar solos, quiet mysterious flute passages, virtuoso keyboards and massive vocal choirs. This being Mandrill's first record, it is probably their most progressive and ambitious, but it is also the one that belongs the most with the time period from which it came.

Side two is probably the side of most interest to the prog-rock crowd with it's side long five movement 'Peace and Love'. This is late 60s/early 70s grandiose musical vision at it's most excessive as the Mandrill crew takes on almost any musical style imaginable from dark and gothic mystery to bright optimistic world jazz. The lyrics don't hold back either as Mandrill unfolds a tale of Biblical proportions that deals with love, peace, the future of mankind and other unfathomable mysteries. This side sounded incredible back in the day, but I'm not sure if it has aged well into the new century. If you take this music as a reflection of the time period in which it was created, then there is much to enjoy here.

If dated hippie pretensions undermine the lofty ambitions of the 'proggy' side two, side one is still one hundred percent right on with it's more streetwise mix of funk, jazz, soul, rock and world beat. Signature tune 'Mandrill' kicks things off with some energetic Afro-Latin rock that may remind some of Santana. Another highlight of this side, 'Symphonic Revolution', is the perfect Sunday afternoon jam with it's mellow mix of jazz, soul, strings and soaring vocal harmonies. It sounds like early Earth Wind & Fire might have gotten some inspiration from this one.

Once a landmark album, the ravages of time have made parts of this album seem a bit kitschy and excessive, yet if you like late 60s/early 70s culture and progressive African hippie music, it does not get any better than this.

 Live at Montreux 2002 by MANDRILL album cover DVD/Video, 2006
4.00 | 1 ratings

Live at Montreux 2002
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
4 stars As much as I enjoy the CD of this high energy concert, Mandrill is an act that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. They don't put on a phony 'show', display rehearsed steps or use props or costume changes. Instead they stand and deliver an ultra tight mix of African fusion, Latin jazz, psychedelic rock and American funk tied together with 70s styled progressive arrangements. It's fascinating to watch the many multi-instrumentalists in this group switch the make-up of their band from a big rock horn section to a massive percussion ensemble to five part vocal harmonies and whatever else a song may call for. Although the rhythm section stays put throughout, the other members of Mandrill play a dizzying variety of horns, percussion and strings, and they can all sing with the best harmonizing bands in the business.

Not only do you get the 2002 concert in Montreux on this DVD, but you also get interviews, some behind the scenes action and a bonus concert shot in Philadelphia. It's the concert in Philly that I found to be the most interesting bonus feature. Mandrill has played a wide variety of music in their lengthy career, although their albums often feature lengthy fusion 'suites', they have also been known to score the occasional 'hit' on the RnB and funk charts too. Judging from the two concerts presented on this DVD, Mandrill definitely adjusts their show for their audience. While playing for the older international jazz crowd in Montreux, Mandrill is on their best most progressive world jazz behavior. Once back in the states though, in front of a younger club crowd in Philly, you get a version of Mandrill that not only funks much harder , but also rocks much harder as well. This is the P-funk version of Mandrill, and it is fun seeing these older musical veterans get the crowd on their feet with crazy syncopated horn lines and screaming guitar solos.

I don't normally watch concerts on TV, but because of Mandrill's never boring arrangements, virtuoso musicality and constantly shifting instrumental make-up , I found this DVD to be muchos fun from start to finish.

 Live At Montreaux 2002 by MANDRILL album cover Live, 2004
4.00 | 1 ratings

Live At Montreaux 2002
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
4 stars The Beast from the East is back! Not only is Mandrill back, but they sound better than ever, or at least the best they have sounded since their heyday in the early 70s. Like a lot of progressive bands that came up in the late 60s and early 70s, Mandrill had to switch to a more commercial sound in the late 70s, and finally disbanded in the mid 80s. A lot happened in the world of music before Mandrill reunited in time for the new century. The rise in popularity of World Beat and the American jam band scene put Mandrill's lengthy international compositions and improvisations back on the cutting edge of modern music once again.

Unlike some rather sad acts from the 70s who try to come back while obviously not firing on all six, Mandrill is in top form on this live CD. The complicated arrangements, the big jazz-orchestral sound, and the fiery improvisations all sound like young men in their prime, not aging wannabes grasping for some faded glory.

All the musical styles you would expect from classic Mandrill are here: African fusion, Latin jazz, heavy psychedelic rock, classic 70s soul, and even one hyper gospel meltdown. All these styles are framed with complicated progressive arrangements that have you guessing what is coming next. Some possible musical references might include early Santana, early Chicago, Osibisa, 70s Frank Zappa and early Funkadelic, back when they were a proggy psychedelic rock band.

If I had one complaint about this album it would be how quickly things seem to change around in their arrangements. Although they do hit some nice grooves and allow the soloists to go off, sometimes I miss that 70s approach when people seemed to have all the time in the world on their hands and solos would go through a multitude of moods and volume changes before passing hands. There is one classic early 70s 'Mandrill moment' in the first song when a charging B3 solo gives way to a quiet and mysterious flute soliloquy , this is the Mandrill I remember from my youth.

It's great knowing Mandrill is back and sounding as strong as ever, if you want aggressive world beat with searing heavy rock guitar and lots of early 70s progressive sensibilities . check this out!

 Beast From The East by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.10 | 2 ratings

Beast From The East
Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Like most progressive bands with roots in the late 60s and early 70s, Mandrill found themselves becoming increasingly commercial as the 70s wore on. Beast from the East is a fairly commercial album with a disco undertone, but to Mandrill's credit this album shows that they hadn't lost much in important areas such as instrumental and vocal skills, creativity, artistic integrity and the ability to put out great interesting music within a more confining commercial space. Groove music from this era was expected to have that steady disco kick drum thud on every downbeat, but Mandrill does a great job of turning to African highlife, Latin rock, Calypso, blaxploitation soundtracks and good old American hard funk to dress up this repetitious beat and keep it interesting.

At the very end of the album Mandrill gives us a taste of their more progressive past with two excellent instrumentals. Aqua Magic opens with cascading piano arpeggios from keyboard virtuoso Claude Cave, then the woodwinds break into an ancient melody before the band kicks into a hard Latin groove that rivals early Santana. A semi-classical keyboard section interrupts their rampage before the band is off again, this time topped by a jazzy dissonant flute solo. These guys can play! The album closes with a mournful space/lounge jazz tune with a cool 'futuristic' exotic synthesizer melody.

Although this album shows Mandrill heading further from their progressive roots, it is nice to hear that they were able to get with the thump-thump-thump 70s in a way that was creative, intelligent and not damaging to their artistic integrity. If you like IDM from the 70s, then you might dig this somewhat commercial, but very high quality effort from Mandrill.

 Solid by MANDRILL album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.10 | 2 ratings

Mandrill Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars As Mandrill moved from the early 70s to the middle of the decade, their lengthy 'jazz odysseys' were being shortened a bit, but on Solid, Mandrill still presents a few lengthy compositions as well as their usual vast smorgasbord of styles including funk, Latin jazz, African soundtracks, 70s brass-rock, psychedelia and jazzy orchestrated soul music. Just as classic progressive rock bands began to decline in the mid-70s, a new generation of progressive funk and RnB bands such as Funkadelic and Earth Wind & Fire were having a revitalizing effect on Mandrill and many others as well. Some other bands you might hear influencing this album include Santana, War, Isaac Hayes, Chicago's 1st album and mid-70s Frank Zappa.

This really isn't 'prog-rock' per se, but I know a lot of you who get into 'proggy' funk and RnB, plus a big dose of proto-world beat jazzy fusion African rock could dig this really fun and never boring album that features one of the very best and most versatile bands ever. In an ongoing testament to their love of music and creativity in general, Mandrill continues to record and tour to this day.

Thanks to alucard for the artist addition.

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