The Manhattan Transfer
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|The Manhattan Transfer|
|Origin||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Genres||A cappella, jazz fusion, pop|
|Years active||1969–1971, 1972–1973, 1973–present|
|Labels||Capitol, Music for Pleasure, Atlantic, Telarc|
|Past members||Erin Dickins
The Manhattan Transfer is an American music group. There have been two manifestations of the group, with Tim Hauser being the only person to be part of both. The name comes from John Dos Passos' 1925 novel Manhattan Transfer and refers to the group's New York origins.
The first manifestation of the group was established in 1969 in New York City by Tim Hauser, Erin Dickins, Marty Nelson, and Pat Rosalia. Gene Pistilli, a good friend, soon became an integral component and composed for, and recorded with, the group. They contracted to Capitol Records, recorded several tracks, and issued their first album, Jukin' (1971). The album was later reissued in the UK by EMI's Music for Pleasure under the title The Manhattan Transfer and Gene Pistilli Pistilli had been best known for his performing and songwriting collaborations with Terry Cashman and Tommy West. This team endured until 1973. According to Hauser, "Gene and I were in two different places. He was more into R&B, and the Memphis sound, and by then I'd become more interested in jazz and swing..."
The next line-up of the group was formed in 1973 by Tim Hauser with singers Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Laurel Massé. After performances at Max's Kansas City, the group developed a cult fan base. Ahmet Ertegün, founder and chairman of Atlantic Records, saw them at Reno Sweeney and offered a recording contract. The group's first album for Atlantic was The Manhattan Transfer (1975), which included their first successful single, the gospel music tune "Operator". During the summer of 1975, the group was showcased in their own hour-long television variety series on CBS.
They also gained a following in Europe, where their next two albums, Coming Out and Pastiche, brought a string of hits. One was a revival of Wayne Shanklin's "Chanson D'Amour", which became a number one hit in the UK and Australia in 1977, though it failed to chart in the U.S. These were followed by a live album, The Manhattan Transfer Live, which was recorded in the UK and reached the UK Top 5.
Third line-up and journey into jazz
In 1978, soon after that album was recorded, Laurel Massé was badly injured in a car accident and was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne. The line-up has remained the same since along with their long-time pianist, Yaron Gershovsky, accompanying them on tour and serving as music director. However, in 2011, while undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Cheryl Bentyne was replaced on stage with the Manhattan Transfer for eight months by the soprano Margaret Dorn. Ms. Dorn again replaced her in December 2013 while Bentyne underwent further treatment. In the latter part of 2013, Tim Hauser also had to be absent from the stage in 2013 and early 2014 as he recovered from spinal surgery; he was replaced on stage by bass/baritone Trist Curless of Los Angeles a cappella group m-pact.
Their next album, Extensions (1979), earned the group their second U.S. popular music success—the disco hit "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone", written by Alan Paul and Jay Graydon as a tribute to the 1960s CBS television series created by Rod Serling. The track also reached the Top 30 in the UK, where the group continued to make several appearances on popular television shows such as The Two Ronnies.
Extensions also featured a cover of Weather Report's "Birdland", with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. One of the most popular jazz recordings of 1980, "Birdland" brought the group their first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, and Janis Siegel was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices for her arrangement of "Birdland".
In 1981, The Manhattan Transfer released a "Best Of" album and they also made music history by becoming the first group to win Grammy awards for both popular and jazz categories in the same year. "Boy from New York City" (a cover of the 1965 success by The Ad Libs) reached the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and won them the award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and "Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)" earned them a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance, Duo or Group. Both of these songs appeared on the group's fifth album, Mecca for Moderns.
In 1982, the group won another Grammy, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, for its rendition of "Route 66". The song was featured on the soundtrack to the Burt Reynolds film Sharky's Machine.
In September 1983, the group released the album Bodies and Souls, with an urban-contemporary style which resulted in two R&B chart singles. The first was the No. 2 hit "Spice of Life", which was co-written by former Heatwave member Rod Temperton who had penned several hits for Michael Jackson. The single also reached No. 40 on the US pop chart and No. 19 in the UK. The other single, the ballad "Mystery" (#80 R&B, No. 102 Pop), was later covered by Anita Baker on her 1986 album Rapture.
In 1985, the group released two albums; the first was Bop Doo-Wopp, which included both live and studio recordings, and the second was Vocalese, which received twelve Grammy nominations—at the time making it second only to Michael Jackson's Thriller as the most nominated single album ever. The group won in two categories: Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, and Best Arrangement for Voices. This was followed by a live recording of many of these songs titled Live. This concert, recorded in Japan, was also released on VHS and DVD, later titled Vocalese Live.
For their next album, Brasil (1987), the group headed south to work with Brazilian songwriters and musicians Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Djavan and Gilberto Gil. Brasil won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
The group did not release any studio albums again until 1991, when they signed with the Sony Music label and released The Offbeat of Avenues, featuring original material written or co-written by members of the quartet. Their efforts brought them their 10th Grammy award, for the song "Sassy". This was followed by the release of their first holiday album entitled The Christmas Album in 1992.
Switching back to Atlantic Records as their distributor, they released Tonin' (a collection of R&B and popular successes from the 1960s), The Manhattan Transfer Meets Tubby the Tuba (a children's album), and their 1997 album Swing which covered 1930s-era swing music. Their final album for Atlantic was The Spirit of St. Louis in 2000, dedicated to the music of Louis Armstrong.
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2004, the group released Vibrate, another one of their “pastiche” albums, blending original tunes with older ones, pop, jazz, funk, etc. Vibrate featured such notable musicians as bassist Will Lee and renowned time-keeper Steve Hass on drums.
During 2006, the group released The Symphony Sessions, a collection of some of their best known songs re-recorded with an orchestra, and also The Definitive Pop Collection, a two-disc collection of the group's material from their time with Atlantic Records. They also recorded their first original title song for a movie, "Trail of the Screaming Forehead"; and, in late 2006, the group released a new concert DVD, The Christmas Concert, and was broadcast by PBS in select locations.
The Chick Corea Songbook, a tribute to the works of American jazz musician Chick Corea, was released in September 2009. The album features an appearance by Corea himself on the track "Free Samba". Other notable musicians on this recording are Airto Moreira, Scott Kinsey, Gary Novak, Steve Hass, Alex Acuña, Jimmy Earl, John "Jellybean" Benitez, and Christian McBride.
In 2011, The Manhattan Transfer worked on an album of previously recorded, but never finished, songs to honour their 40th anniversary. “We are working on a project now that is called The Vaults. Over the years, there are a lot of different songs that we recorded but never finished. We pull out from the archives a lot of these songs and are finishing them,” said Alan Paul in an interview for Jazz FM radio in Bulgaria. One of the highlights of the album will be a vocalese version of George and Ira Gershwin’s The Man I Love, based on an Artie Shaw and his orchestra performance of the composition, which had been slated for the Swing album. “I wrote lyrics to Artie Shaw’s clarinet solo and then to all the other parts underneath. We become the vocal orchestra for Artie Shaw’s orchestra. The rhythm track was done with Ray Brown on bass, Yaron Gershovsky – our musical director – on piano, David Hungate on guitar and Duffy Jackson on drums. It was a wonderful track and we never got to do the vocals. So now we are in the studio putting down the vocals. This is like a dream come true for me because it is such an incredibly beautiful piece of music. After all these years to finally hear it being finished and done, is really wonderful”, said Alan Paul.
In September 2013, one of the original members of The Manhattan Transfer, Erin Dickins, started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a re-recording by all of the original members of the group of their hit single " Java Jive." The project was successfully funded on Oct 9, 2013.
|Jukin'||1971||US No. 202|
|The Manhattan Transfer||1975||US No. 33, UK No. 49 (1977 release)|
|Coming Out||1976||US No. 48, UK No. 12|
|Pastiche||1978||US No. 66, UK No. 10|
|The Manhattan Transfer Live||UK No. 4|
|Extensions||1979||US No. 55, UK No. 63|
|Mecca for Moderns||1981||US No. 22|
|The Best of the Manhattan Transfer||US No. 103|
|Bodies and Souls||1983||US No. 57, UK No. 53|
|Bop Doo-Wopp||1985||US No. 127|
|Vocalese||US No. 74|
|Live||1987||US No. 187|
|Brasil||US No. 98|
|The Offbeat of Avenues||1991||US No. 179|
|The Christmas Album||1992||US No. 120|
|Anthology: Down In Birdland|
|The Very Best of the Manhattan Transfer||1994||US No. 157|
|The Manhattan Transfer Meets Tubby the Tuba|
|Tonin'||1995||US No. 123|
|Man-Tora! Live in Tokyo||1996|
|Boy From New York City And Other Hits|
|The Spirit of St. Louis||2000|
|Couldn't Be Hotter||2003|
|An Acapella Christmas||2005|
|The Symphony Sessions||2006|
|The Definitive Pop Collection|
|The Chick Corea Songbook||2009|
|Year||Song||US Hot 100||U.S. AC||UK Singles Chart||Canada|
|"Don't Let Go"||-||-||32||-|
|1978||"Walk In Love"||-||-||12|
|"On a Little Street in Singapore"||-||-||20||-|
|"Where Did Our Love Go/Je Voulais Te Dire (Que Je T'Attends)"||-||-||40|
|1979||"Who What Where When Why"||-||-||49||-|
|1980||"Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone"||30||-||25||-|
|1981||"The Boy from New York City"||7||4||-||8|
|1982||"Spies in the Night"||103||-||-||-|
|1983||"Spice of Life"||40||5||19||-|
|"Baby Come Back to Me (The Morse Code of Love)"||83||14||-||-|
|1987||"Soul Food to Go (Sina)"||-||25||-||-|
|1995||"Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" (with Phil Collins)||-||27||-|
- "Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo" OST (1979): "Johnny," "Jealous Eyes," "I Kiss Your Hand, Madame" Conducted by Frank Barber/ Produced by Tim Hauser
- A League of Their Own OST (1992): "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street"
- Home Improvement (1992): Sing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear" as part of a Tool Time Christmas special ("I'm Scheming Of A White Christmas", Season 2).
- Swing Kids OST 1993 "Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen" was sung by Janis Siegel
- Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King (1995) (Tribute Album) they sing 'Smackwater Jack'
- All Music Guide entry
- "Rate your music". Rate your music. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- Manhattan Transfer fan club site
- Manhattan Transfer, November 28, 2013. "Ladies and Gentlemen ... Margaret Dorn!". Manhattan Transfer Official Site. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Manhattan Transfer, November 1, 2013. "Ladies and Gentlemen ... Trist Curless!". Manhattan Transfer Official Site. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- The introduction of the song is incorrectly attributed in the liner notes to Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the theme for Season 1 of The Twilight Zone only. The more famous Twilight Zone theme that is used in the Manhattan Transfer song was composed by Marius Constant.
- Interview for JazzFM (Bulgaria)
- Dickins Geyelin, Erin. "“Java Jive” Jazz for Foodies". Kickstarter. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 346. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Official site (requires Flash)
- Cheryl Bentyne official site
- Janis Siegel official site
- Erin Dickins official site
- Laurel Massé official site
- History of The Manhattan Transfer
- Vocal Group Hall of Fame page on The Manhattan Transfer
- The Manhattan Transfer at Allmusic