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February 11, 2015

Manhattan Transfer soldiers on in honor of founder Tim Hauser

Cleveland Plain Dealer:

For almost 40 years, Cheryl Bentyne and her friends in the Manhattan Transfer got used to seeing their founder and friend, Tim Hauser just about every day. And just like that, he's gone. Hauser, who was driving a cab when he founded the group back in New York in 1969, died of cardiac arrest last October. He was 72.

"It's still surreal, kind of,'' said Bentyne, who joined the band in 1979, in a call from her Los Angeles home. "It hasn't quite hit yet, and yet we've been doing shows with Trist Curless. I keep expecting to see Tim walk out onstage, or see him in the lobby, waiting for us.''

Bentyne admitted that the band, which plays sold-out Nighttown on Friday, Feb. 13, as part of the club's 50th anniversary year celebration, contemplated calling it quits after Hauser's death.

"There were all kinds of thoughts running through our heads,'' she said. "He STARTED the group. But we want to keep singing and we want to keep the legacy alive, which is what he would absolutely want. "He built this from the ground up, and to walk away from it really wasn't an option,'' she said.

What helped, she said, was having Curless to step in. He'd already filled in as the bass from time to time during Hauser's illnesses, so they were all acquainted with him.

"If anyone could walk in his place, Trist is the guy to do it,'' said Bentyne. And she was effusive in her praise for how he handled a tough situation. He would let the three surviving members -- Bentyne, Janis Siegel and Alan Paul -- walk out onstage and talk to the audience about their loss, their love for Hauser and their affection for Curless.

Curless, who came to the band from an a cappella vocal group called M-Pact, has taken over Hauser's parts, but his experience as a beat-boxer doing rhythms with M-Pact has added another dimension to Manhattan Transfer's sound.

"Trist can be a drum, he can be a bass,'' Bentyne said. "His job in M-Pact is that beat-box thing that Tim didn't focus on, so we have a built-in orchestra now.''

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This really is a perfect match! Tim left huge shoes to fill and Trist is one of the few who can fill them.

Posted by acapnews at February 11, 2015 12:00 AM