The Manhattan Transfer

  • 26 July 2006

This article is from 2006.

Since the demise of the Swing era amid the chaos of WW2, mass popularity
as usually been regarded with some suspicion in hardcore jazz circles. Purists
have often turned up their noses at the crossover pop success of this vocal
harmony quartet, but the group has very definite roots in jazz, and much of
their material draws directly on classic jazz styles, stretching from the
New Orleans jazz of Louis Armstrong through to the contemporary vocal
pyrotechnics of Bobby McFerrin.

Joe Zawinul's 'Birdland', with lyrics by Jon Hendricks, a co-inventor of the
'vocalese' style of setting words to existing jazz instrumental solos,
provided one of their biggest hits, and is still regarded as pretty much
their signature tune. The band formed back in 1972, and founders Tim
Hauser, Janis Siegel and Alan Paul were joined by Cheryl Bentene in 1978.
She summed-up the band's remarkable longevity.

'We're friends, but because our relationship is artistic, it's so multilayered.
This is the longest relationship I've had with anyone in my life, other than
my parents. For all of us, we've been together longer than we've been
married, and longer than we've been single.' (Kenny Mathieson)

Queen's Hall, 2 Aug, 8pm, £27.50 (£22.50).