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August 7, 2006

Review - Manhattan Transfer

The Scotsman (UK):

Jazz fans can be sniffy about the commercial success enjoyed by bands like Manhattan Transfer, but members of the crowd at the Queen's Hall had no such reservations. They were there to celebrate the music of this long-running vocal quartet, and were rewarded with a scintillating show and the kind of close-quarters experience that is impossible to achieve in the bigger venues they are used to playing.

This line-up, featuring Tim Hauser, Janis Siegel, Alan Paul and Cheryl Bentene, have been together since 1978, but they launched into the songs with undimmed enthusiasm. They radiated a sense of enjoyment in their performance that was entirely infectious, whether performing recent additions to their repertoire or rolling out a selection of old favourites. All four are fine singers in their own right, but their trademark is their intricate but highly energised vocal interchanges (harmony singing doesn't quite cover it).

Their complex interplay of vocal lines, micro-second timing and buoyant rhythmic intensity never flagged even in the sapping heat of the venue, and they finished as strongly as they had begun. Backed by a strong four-piece band, they sang a selection of famous jazz instrumental tunes in "vocal-ese" versions, including Horace Silver's Doodlin', Clifford Brown's Joy Spring, Louis Armstrong's Stompin' at Mahogany Hall and a weird and arresting version of Miles Davis's Tutu that sounded like nothing else in the show.

Old favourites dusted down for the occasion included You Can Depend On Me from their debut album, a sparkling Route 66, their version of Basie guitarist Freddie Green's Corner Pocket, a nod to Ella Fitzgerald in A-Tisket, A-Tasket, with Siegal as lead voice, and their hugely popular vocal version of Joe Zawinul's Birdland. A couple of encores, featuring Tuxedo Junction and Choo Choo Ch'Boogie, closed a truly great show.

Posted by acapnews at August 7, 2006 10:16 PM