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Mike Mainieri – Jazz Vibraphonist

Mike Mainieri – Vibraphone  – Born July 4, 1938


One of my methods of exploring jazz is via the list of birthdays at All About Jazz. I usually am on the lookout for musicians I am not familiar with, additionally I am partial to foreign sounding names or instruments that I love. Today’s artist is Mike Mainieri. I am not familiar  Mike’s music and  in addition he plays an instrument I love the vibraphone!  Mike Mainieri was born in the Bronx, New York on the 4th of July in 1938. So he’s been around for a while, which I guess makes it more unusual that I don’t know his name!

Mainieri’s career began in the 1950s and through the 50s and 60s he performed with some of the best including: Buddy Rich, Billie Holliday, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and Wes Montgomery! I told you some of the BEST! In 1962, he joined the group Jeremy & the Satyrs which was formed by flutist Jeremy Steig and once again he was performing with some the best only a slightly different crowd this one  included: Frank Zappa, Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix.  He also  performed for a live album by Laura Nyro, and was featured on several tracks from the Dire Straits album Love Over Gold as well as on “Ride Across the River” on the album Brothers in Arms.

In the late 1970s Mainieri  formed the jazz fusion band Steps Ahead with Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd, and Don Grolnick.  Through the years Steps Ahead has been a launching pad for new talent and musical ideas and sounds.

Through the years Mainieri has not only been  an award-winning vibraphonists, and a pioneer in introducing the electronic vibraphone the “Synth-vibe”,  he has also been a  composer, arranger and performer… from his website…

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.

Mike Mainieri Modern TimesHey a connection to my music library Don McLean, I need to check that out on my copy of American Pie! In 1992 Mike founded the NYC Record label and the label has  given exposure to 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 with Steps Ahead and doing all those other things he does like conducting workshops and producing records!! This morning I listened to Mike’s release An American Diary, because it was an editor’s pick at AllMusic, Steps Ahead’s 2005 release Modern Times and right now I’m listening  to Mike’s 2010 release Crescent. I loved them all! And I have a lot more exploring to do!!

Here’s some vintage Mike Mainieri with “Sara’s Touch” The song appears on Steps Ahead’s 1992 album Yin-Yang.  Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mike Mainieri and thanks for all the music that I missed! I promise I’ll try to catch up!!


Artist Website
All About Jazz