Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Mainieri, Mike (Michael, Jr.)

Mainieri, Mike (Michael, Jr.), vibraphonist, keyboard player, arranger, composer; b. N.Y., 4 July 1938. (July 24 was a typo that has been copied in other books.)

Raised in a family of performers and musicians, Mike's training began early. At the age of 14, his own jazz trio was touring with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and by 17 he was playing and arranging for Buddy Rich's sextet -- a tenure which continued up until 1962. During this period, he also played with such legendary artists as Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and Wes Montgomery, and at the age of 18 he won the International Jazz Critic's Award . In 1962, he joined the ground-breaking jazz/ rock group Jeremy & The Satyrs led by flutist Jeremy Steig. Along with Warren Bernhardt, Donald MacDonald, Adrian Guilery, and Eddie Gomez, The Satyrs jammed at New York's Club Go Go, and performed with such figures as Frank Zappa, Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix. During the late 60's, 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 George Young, Frank Vacari, Michael Brecker, and Ronny Cuber -- saxes ; Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff, and Randy Brecker-- trumpets ; Barry Rogers, Jon Pierson-- trombones ; as well as, Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, Donald MacDonald, Warren Bernhardt, Joe Beck, David Spinozza, and Hugh McCraken in the rhythm section. Under Mike's direction, this jazz/ rock big band evolved into a laboratory for experimentation with various musical forms, ideas, and philosophies. From 1969- 1972, the White Elephant clan of New York's finest musicians jammed, and recorded at studios throughout the city. During the late 70's, Mike founded the jazz/ fusion groups Steps Ahead, which included previous cohorts Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd and Don Grolnick. Steps alumni include Peter Erskine, Eliane Elias, Rachel Z, Victor Bailey, Warren Bernhardt, Chuck Loeb, Daryl Jones, Mike Stern and Jimi Tunnel. Other noteworthy collaborations have included recordings with Joe Henderson, Marcus Miller, Joe Lovano, Larry Coryell, and Jim Hall, just to name a few. 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, he's worked with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Janis Ian, James Taylor, Dire Staits, and Bonnie Raitt. He's Produced albums for George Benson and Andy Summers, and Steps Ahead alumni, Norweigan saxophonist Bendik, and pianist Rachel Z. In 1992, Mike brought to bear his vast experience with the creation of NYC Records featuring the sounds of Zachary Breaux and Rachel Z, saxophonists George Garzone and Myron Walden, Philip DeGruy's solo guitar, and Mike's own projects Mike Mainieri, An American Diary series --featuring Joe Lovano, George Garzone , Eddie Gomez, and Peter Erskine.. Mike was also one of the inventors of the Synthivibe, which consists of a series of copper percussion bars powered by static electricity.

Blues on the Other Side  (1962); Insight (1967); Journey through an Electric Tub (1968); Love Play (1977); Free Smiles  (1978); Duos with W. Bernhardt: Free Smiles (1978); Wanderlust (1981); American Diary  (1994); Come Together: Guitar Tribute (1995)
As sideperson:
Buddy Rich: Blues Caravan (1961)

B. Primack: "Mike Mainieri: Good Vibes Unlimited," DB, xlv/8 (1978), 17
H. Mandel: "Steps Ahead," DB, 1/8 (1983), 18 (incl. interview]
J. Sabins: "Mike Mainieri," Modern Percussionist, ii/3 (1983), 8
M. Gilbert: "Mike Mainieri,"JJI, xxxvii/12 (1984), 10

Contact information:
PO Box 230877
New York, NY 10023

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