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Mandrill

One of funk's most progressive outfits, Mandrill paid the price for their ambitions in commercial returns -- not that they never earned a reputation or an audience, but their expansive, eclectic vision often worked better when given an album's worth of room to roam, rather than being condensed into hit singles. Mandrill's jam-heavy brand of funk was liberally infused with Latin, Caribbean, and jazz influences, plus blues, psychedelia, African music, and straight-up rock. Their freewheeling approach was a definite influence on the Parliament-Funkadelic collective (an early incarnation of which actually served as their opening act), and their grooves have been sampled by numerous hip-hop acts in modern days.

Mandrill was formed in Brooklyn in 1968 by brothers Ric Wilson (sax, vocals), Lou Wilson (trumpet, vocals), and Carlos Wilson (trombone, vocals), all of whom were born in Panama and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood by musically inclined parents. Ric Wilson had already taken up a career as a cardiologist when the group officially formed; the brothers had performed together for quite some time, rehearsing at the beauty salon where their mother worked. Taking their name from the variety of West African ape (because of its distinctive, colorful face and well-developed, family-oriented social organization), Mandrill soon added keyboardist Claude "Coffee" Cave, guitarist Omar Mesa, bassist Bundie Cenas, and drummer Charlie Padro. They signed with Polydor and released their eponymous debut album in 1970, displaying the influence of the burgeoning jazz-rock and Latin rock movements in addition to soul and funk. For the follow-up, 1972's Mandrill Is, Fudgie Kae Solomon replaced Cenas on bass, and the group scored its first hits with "Ape Is High" and "Git It All."

With new drummer Neftali Santiago, Mandrill scored their biggest hit with 1973's Composite Truth, which also produced their highest-charting single, "Fencewalk." This incarnation ranked as the classic Mandrill lineup, but didn't take long to splinter; after 1974's Just Outside of Town (which featured the hit "Mango Meat"), guitarist Mesa left (citing "spiritual reasons") and was replaced by Dougie Rodriguez, formerly of Santana. After the soundscape-heavy double-LP Mandrilland, disputes over the Wilson brothers' control of the band led to the departure of every non-Wilson member save for Claude Cave. Leaving Polydor, Mandrill cut two albums for United Artists with a session rhythm section over 1975-1976, and subsequently caught on with Arista. Their label debut, 1977's We Are One, proved to be their biggest hit since Composite Truth, spawning the club hits "Funky Monkey" and "Can You Get It"; it also marked the temporary return of Santiago on drums, the addition of another brother, Wilfredo "Wolf" Wilson, on bass, and the debut of guitarist Joaquin Jessup. Two more albums for Arista followed over the next two years (New Worlds and Getting in the Mood), and the band also handled the soundtracks for the Muhammad Ali flick The Greatest (1977) and the cult gang film The Warriors (1979). Mandrill went on to cut one more album, Energize!, for Montage in 1982 before disbanding. Fudgie Kae Solomon later died of a drug overdose. Lou Wilson died from cardiac arrest in January 2013 at the age of 71. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

landfair54
Great group my favorite album and song is and was composite truth
fillyborn
Grew up listening to them finally got to see them 2012 at the DeLL East in Philly...I believe they are better live than recorded. Just the Versatility of the group is amazing. My favorite has to be, House of Wood...
Lou Wilson was 1 of my favorite people back in tha day-----RIP, man, u will NEVER be 4gotten, & u will ALWAYS be loved. :-) :'(:-)
i used to kick it with them and nile rodgers ...good peeps
jlswriter
Someone please tell the writer at Pandora that the song is Get It All
"Hey! Got your big mouth rolling, but it's not what you say, it's what you do!" Those of us who grew up listening to this jam knew and understood every single word in this song! Why would Pandora find what is being sung, garbled?? SMH.
and that a fact that old school baby let the monkey funk you down!!!!!!!! ! !

I knew some brothers in Brooklyn who knew them! They were awesome! I would do my homework and listen to them back when they were out! Such a long time ago!
One of the most versatile groups ever.earth wind and fire. Mandeville would have been a life changing experience.
bejones33
If you ever get the chance to see them live do it they won't disappoint even in this day and age
Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill Mandrill!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! :-D GOD BLESS EM!!! I should start over with a new username~~~M A N D R I L L F A N 4 E V E R ! ! ! Those were the DAYS........ . S i g h i n g heavily now.... ........B-)
Mandrill is another fantastic band whose records I played the grooves off of!!! Ive still got em, but there's not much left but memories!!! VIVA PANAMA!!!!!
funky
Love this band when I seen at the Apollo Patty label and the bluebirds open for them got a chance to meet their mother sang some songs with Lou backstage after a show The best concert I ever seen when they played a Schafer beer show in Central Park They did a show at Randall Island major riot was at BB king August 11 to me they were a head of their time to bad they didn't get the commercial success like EWF WAR their use of oboe cello harps and other exotic instruments were fantastic it was hard
1empowered.d o n
Got to share this from my brief roadie period. 1982-83 Mandrill did the Downtown L.A. Street Scene concert. They were the last band up. The police had arrived to make sure it shut down on time. I forget the cut off time, maybe 10pm, well the police were trippin' and told them to stop early like 9:50p. Los Carlos shook his head no. The police pulled the plug and Lou kept playing Congas Lou style. Drummer kept drumming and anything that was not electronic kept jammin' crowd went wild : )
1empowered.d o n
Their youngest brother R.I.P. Alonzo Q. Wilson was my best friend. He has since passed back in 94. Mr. Wilfred Wilson and Doris Wilson (Dad & Mom Mandrill : ) Took me in when my grandmother passed in 1978. Me and Alonzo roadied for them a little bit and would sit in on rehearsals. Wolf got me started playing bass. Best of memories. R.I.P. Lou (always had us laughing). Awesome memories...t h e whole family...awe s o m e people. Didn't realize the value of who I was around at the time...no pics : (
LOL! Fencewalk lyrics read Incomprehens i b l e ! ! That's what made Mandrill such a great group back in the day!!!!
Mandrill.. Fencewalk is a great song!! Groups/Bands from the 70's were the greatest!! ♥♫
alexandercor v o
oh lawdy !!!

Aww man. R.I.P. Lou Wilson. Mandrill won't be the same without Sweet Lou.
I always loved their music, giving the fact tha I was usally stoned out of my mind while listening to it. Even after being sober since 1981 it is still great listening to it.
Mandrill is the sh__it since the 70,s better listen ~~~~>. |#%
my only claim to fame came back in that funk rock psychadelic days of Mandrill, baby huey, Cynamade, The incredible bong band, and DJ Kool Herc and the Hercaloids! boogie down bronx was poppin back then!
Hey Lets add another albumto the rotation how about Mandrill Is
Panama!..... D a s whas up! Love you Mi Hermanos! Gracias!!!!! ! ! ! Whoo!
mpwoodfo
Love them, you can't beat she ain't looking too tough all day long. I miss their music, but I do have their album, so anytime I want, it's on.
tehenderson1 2
Is it just me, or does the music of today not hold a candle to the music of yesteryear?
carlyle.leac h
True musicians with a love for their ancestry: BK. Native, Panamanian, Barbados, Latin.
positive thing if you got tha rythm and funk
ruthhobson52
I love music and this one of my favorite groups
true.change
Let's set the record straight. The PANDORA biography is pretty much accurate with several exceptions (or over sights). Mandrill has been back together for several years now performing throughout the US and abroad. I had the distinct pleasure of working with them during the late '90's. Neftali Santiago has returned as the drummer.
I'll never forget the first time that I saw Mandrill Album cover art. I was woking at Larry Dean's Record Shop, in Baltimore. It, thoroughly, captured my imagination. As soon as I heard that they were going to be at BB King's in New York (this past August), I bought tickets and booked a room for that weekend. They were as funky as ever and rocked the joint. I remember a docu-concert , featuring Mandrill, that aired on Public Television 30 years ago. I was amazed at the versatility of the Wilson B
Mango meat on the Ape is high Album was the bomb
Man! They were the first band I ever saw live in the 70's. I saw them @ BB Kings in NY on Aug.11th!! They brought the house down!!! And oh by the way....it was my birthday!
Mandrill was truly a Symphonic Revolution
teenew57
Fencewalk was one of the baddest jams of the day. But don't forget "Ape Is High" either. Or when they slowed it down with "House Of Wood".
jdblab1
Yeah, not many remember Mandrill, "Fencewalk" on of my favs! Old School child.
Mandrill, Fencewalk, talking about old school, can't get any better than this. Young people have no idea what good music is all about!
Wow!
I remember Fencewalk Badass song to dance to.Good album.
Im really getting to kmow them, but, the RoCk.
jay_walker
The best album they ever recorded was Solid, where Peck Ya Neck was, also Wind on Horseback,So l i d and Silk.One of the best bands to ever rock the funk world.
mtarkins
mandrill what can i say??? they made the bronx rock when the bronx was rocking!!!
I hope you didn't miss their first 2 albums, "mandrill" and "mandrill is". my favorites.
angelopj1958
Love this group . In the 70's whenever Mandrill put out an album , yes I said album , you knew War's album was right on the way!!!!!
I have loved Mandrill for over 35yrs and have been looking for the album SOLID for almost as long notably the cuts SOLID andSILK
tabbrod
fencewalk was one the most jammin r&b song of the 70's some of the other jams thAT DIDN'T GET MUCH PLAY ON RADIO LIKE PECK YOUR NECK IS ALSO NICE
You ain't never lied, Keith!!! Fencewalk is my jam. Nothing can touch this group or come close. I just go into a frenzy when I hear their music. They need to do a reunion tour. If you don't have it GET IT!
"FENCEWALK" WILL LIVE IN MY HEART FOREVER. THANKS FOR THOSE STOKE NEWINGTON LONDON PARTY DAYS.... PROBABLY THE BEST 7" VINYL EVER MADE. THE SO CALLED REAL ROCK BOYS ARE STILL RUNNING FROM THIS. STILL THE BEST SLAM DOWN WILL EVER HEAR WHAT A MASH UP TUNE!!!!!!!! ! NOT FO THE WEAK AT HEART TURN UP THE VOLUME AND DANCE , DANCE DANCE DANCE ENERGY TO BURN ...HAVE YOU STILL GOT IT???? ape is high!!!! Keith?

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