Kat Mandu

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Origin: Montréal, Québec, 🇨🇦

Denis LePage and Joe La Greca were the brainchild of this Canadian disco group. First LP included the disco classic "The break", which was so popular it continued to be played well into the 1980's and was remixed several times. This was originally issued in the US on T.K. Disco records although the original release was on Canada's Unidisc records. This first album also includes disco classics "Don't stop keep on", "There's only been a few" and "Djaga boogie woogie". Backing vocals included Cissy Houston.

Their second LP, "Get Crackin'", followed in 1980 and was more downtempo and funky. This album featured orchestration by Ritchie Rome of the Ritchie Family, who also co-wrote two of the tracks.
The third album, "The Kat Is Back" was released in 1982.

The third album Kat Mandu album includes "Hot wax" and was released on Brass records.

Every now and then a song comes along that helps define an era, in 1979 that song was "The Break." A rousing high energy instrumental that to this day packs dance floors. When that song emerged it was believed to be by a group, speculation was that it was a "studio" group fronted by Joe LaGreca and Denis LePage. Of course LePage and LaGreca were part of the process but they were by no means the driving force. Adding to the mystery was the album cover which featured a painting of a tiger. It wasn't until the second album that dancers could put a face to the name Kat Mandu.

The face was that of Jimmy Ray, a Guyana, South Africa musician that had already paid his dues. Jimmy, like most great singers, started his career in his local church. Growing up he also studied guitar with childhood friend Jimmy Cannings. His talent brought him local success and eventually he graduated to being the opening act for such artists as Sam & Dave, Ben E. King, and Carla Thomas. On tour with them he performed in concerts across Europe, America and the Caribbean.

While on tour in England Jimmy landed a guitar gig with rock legend Dave Clark. That spot turned into a two year job traversing all across the U.K. Feeling restless and the need to broaden his career Jimmy left England and moved to New York in the late 1970's to study and perfect his craft.

While in New York he quickly tapped into the revolving studio musician grind and played on a number of recordings. In 1977 Odyssey had a major hit with "Native New Yorker," this led to numerous requests for personal appearances. Ray was recruited as guitarist for those concerts and while on a Canadian trip he made the decision to stay in Montreal.

In Montreal he established himself within the burgeoning recording circuit immediately. He quickly became friends with Joe LaGreca who was on the cusp of success with Montreal Sound and it's lead singer Uchenna Ikejiana (Carol Jiani). Part of the studio clique that floated around Canada was Denis LePage who had yet to formulate LIME with his wife Denyse. During this period Ray collaborated with the two on projects for Caroline Bernier, Melody Stewart and Linda DiFiore.

The three decided in mid-1978 to combine forces on an instrumental song LePage had written. Denis arranged "The Break" while LaGreca produced (with Joe Marandola) and all three played the instruments. Originally released on a Unidisc 12" single, the song gained some momentum, but it wasn't until T.K. licensed it and had Steve Thompson and Michael Arato remix it that it shot to the top of the charts. Not only here in the U.S. but around the globe it was certified a gold hit. The song received two additional remixings by Jonathon Fearing (on a Unidisc 12" single) which kept it on turntables throughout the remainder of the year. One final 12" single was pulled from the "Kat Mandu" album, a Joe LaGreca/Gene Leone remix of "Don't Stop, Keep On." The Fitz Walton penned instrumental followed the formula of his previous hit, but not it's success.

In 1980 Fitz Walton was enlisted by LaGreca to pen five new numbers for the "Get Crackin' " album. Walton turned in a mix of uptempo sizzlers and mediocre downtempo tracks. Richie Rome (father of the Ritchie Family) co-wrote, arranged, conducted and played all the keyboards. The album produced one 12" single, "New World Break." The Unidisc release was not picked up for American distribution.

In 1981 his 12" single “I Wanna Dance“ on the Brass Record label earned him a Gold Record and was well received in Canada, and the U.S. as well as in various European countries where it was distributed by EMI-Barclay records. As Kat Mandu, Jimmy also had the opportunity to perform and record with Kat Dyson and Tchukon, who had been "Star Search" winners.

While absent from recording for most of the last two decades, Jimmy's schedule of non-stop touring continued unabated. “The touring didn’t end because I didn’t have new records out” he smiles. I’ve been busy performing throughout the country and, in Canada performing at major hotels and doing corporate events." During this time, he was also cast in “Soul to Soul” a musical review at Ontario Place in Toronto, Canada showcasing 4 decades of hit making music.

Currently residing in Florida, Jimmy's dynamic personality and his versatile voice has made him a favorite in the Miami and Key Largo areas. His audiences are entertained by a variety of music from rhythm and blues, to soul, to rock’n’roll, to reggae, to old standards and top 40 hits.

Now, Jimmy is delighting his audiences once again with his new release the CD-single “Come Back Again” written by Dave Martins. For more information and to purchase his single visit Jimmy's own website by clicking below. We thank Jimmy, the mysterious man behind a true disco classic.


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