John Leventhal’s Funk/JamBand Supergroup – Mojo Mancini


Mojo Mancini is made up of Grammy-winning producer and guitarist John Leventhal, “Saturday Night Live” drummer Shawn Pelton, saxophonist and engineer Rick DePofi, keyboardist Brian Mitchell, and bassist Conrad Korsch. The group began in 2000 with one aim: to make music with no predetermined style or structure and to have fun doing it. “We’ve all known each other for between 20 and 30 years,” says Leventhal, the husband and bandleader of country great Rosanne Cash. “Even though we’re known for and love working with all of these other great artists, before we started this band we felt like we’d gotten away from just being in the moment when playing. We wanted an outlet where we could make music that doesn’t adhere to one specific genre. The five of us bring a lot of different things to the table, which makes for a really unique sound.” Unique is right. Mojo Mancini sounds like little else on today’s radar. Its tracks blend elements of rock, funk, dub, R&B, jazz, blues, and electronica—while not hovering in any one zone long enough to be categorized. For the sessions one musician would originate an idea and the others would fall in, each adding his own spontaneous brushstrokes to create surprising colors, melodies, harmonies, and grooves. DePofi then edited the recordings down into the album’s 13 cuts; pieces like the popping, percolating dub-groover “Ganesvoort,” the moody, mist-filled noir epic “Widescreen” (its title a testament to the music’s soundtrack readiness); and the funky, sax-smeared “Just Sit” and the enigmatic-to-explosive “Let Us Pray” which feature, respectively, the voices of poets Jack Hirschman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. “Even though we all come from different places—John’s got his roots influences, Conrad and I are more from jazz and R&B, Brian blues, and Shawn’s really into experimental music—to me we’re kinda like a jazz band, but one that’s trying to not sound like a jazz band,” offers DePofi, the owner and creative director of NY Noise Music productions. “It’s about going deep, not just staying in the default position.”

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