Mario Mendivil has had the opportunity and pleasure to perform with some of the world's most renown musicians such as: Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, Brian Simpson, Mindi Abair, Kim Waters, Gregg Karukus, Eric Darius, Alexander Zonjic, Marion Meadows, Nelson Rangell, Glen Cambell, Sam Moore, Billie Preston, Denise Williams, Brian Bromberg, Ray Obiedo, Steve Oliver and Jay Soto. For over 25 years, Mario has been making a name for himself as an solid live / studio bassist and Musical Director. He has also been called upon for his compositional, arranging and recording skills for artists such as Nelson Rangell, Marion Meadows, Jay Soto, Jaared, Cindy Bradley and Dominic Amato…
Born in Phoenix Az, Mario always had an interest in music. His father was a fan of big band all-stars like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Harry James to name a few, which first led Mario to his interest in jazz music. Mario quotes: “ I remember watching those old movies like The Benny Goodman Story & The Glen Miller Story. I loved to see people like Lionel Hampton, Louie Armstrong and Gene Krupa, and thought it was cool to see them play. I also had a great respect for people like Danny Kaye and Donald O’Connor because of the songs and tongue twisters they would perform”.
Mario first gained interest in the electric bass at age 12 when he saw a band playing at a local restaurant while celebrating his mother's birthday. This interest led him to take notice of the bass’ role in music. Verdine White’s bass solo on Earth Wind & Fire’s “New World Symphony” was what really captivated him. His brother Robert would buy him his first bass for his 13th birthday. After getting a bass amp for his 8th grade graduation, he spent the summer teaching himself to play by jamming to records. By the time he entered high school, he was able to play well enough to perform in the beginning big band as a freshman. He began his professional career at age 15 playing dance clubs, special events, private parties and weddings, and his reputation for being a young prodigy bassist was becoming established in Phoenix. By age 18, Mario began to emerge onto the valley’s jazz scene playing with all the top jazz musicians, most of which would actually later become his professors in college.
Following high school, Mario attended Mesa Community College on a full scholarship under the direction of the late Grant Wolf, a highly respected jazz educator. It was here that Mario would meet world renown bassist Brian Bromberg at a summer jazz camp where Brian was the bass instructor. Brian took notice of Mario and said he had a project coming up and would he be interested in participating in it. Mario quotes: “ I remember Brian saying he would call me sometime, and six months later he called out of the blue! Brian explained he had a solo project that he wanted me to play "backup bass" for him while he played “lead piccolo bass”. This was the debut of his first solo album in concert with jazz tenor player Joe Farrell (Chick Corea, Elvin Jones), Alex Acuna (famed drummer of ground breaking fusion group Weather Report) and Kei Akagi (keyboardist with Miles Davis, Al Di Meola). I accepted the invitation with much enthusiasm."
Mario continues: “That was an amazing time for me. I'll never forget the first day. Those guys came straight from the airport along with their baggage to the rehearsal. As soon as they were behind their instruments, Brian handed them the music and called "Oriental Hodown". The tune had a huge unison line that's all sixteenth notes at about 150 bpm and they sight read it perfectly! Here I was, this 19 year old "puppy" watching them, and being blown away! The concert was the next day, so there was little “getting to know you time”. Joe kept to himself ,understandably, because he didn't feel well, but Kei and Alex were very accommodating, telling musician stories and we exchanged friendly banter.
The concert was split up in two segments. The first half, Brian would perform with his local band which I was part of, and the second half would feature the Guest Artists, which I also participated with. Earlier in the rehearsal, Brian wanted to give me a solo on his tune "Mr. Wilson" which was in the first half of the concert and I graciously declined. I remember him looking at me and saying “come on man” and me saying “no, its cool.” He just smiled at me. When the tune came up, it was the last song of the first half of the concert and everybody had soloed, except for me. Then came Brian’s solo. He was tearing it up! Playing all this amazing stuff effortlessly like he does, wowing the audience and bringing it to a breath-taking climax and finale. Everybody was cheering for him, with the band happily basking in his moment, when all of a sudden he turned around to me while they’re still clapping and said, “You’re up!”. Now you have to remember, Brian is an amazing technician, and I had nowhere the technique he had, so I stood there in shock while everyone was waiting for me to play something. Well, I don’t really remember what I played, but it seemed like an eternity. And when I finished the solo, I looked up and I recieved a standing ovation, ironically, the only one of the evening! The best part for me was when I went backstage afterwards, and saw Joe Farrell sitting there. He had been watching from the side of the stage and said, “ You knocked em dead. Good job.” and I said, “Just warmin them up for you Joe.” He just smiled and chuckled to himself.” Unfortunately this would be Joe’s last gig as he passed away shortly afterwards, so it's a truly special memory for me.”