Manhattan Transfer at The Jazz Alley
Manhattan Transfer, October 21st -24th, 2010, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA.
By E. Joyce Glasgow
All Photo Credits/Copyrights: E. Joyce Glasgow
The multiple Grammy Award winning vocal quartet, the Manhattan Transfer, (founded in 1969) have been performing in their current configuration of Janis Siegel, Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul and Tim Hauser, along with Musical Director/pianist/keyboardist, Yaron Gershovsky, for thirty-two years!
They are a well-oiled machine. Bam! They are up and running on the stage. Pow! They explode in a dynamic force of tight, intricate, celebratory vocal harmonies, energetic, expressive physicality, both choreographed and free form and an assertive professionalism, developed by all those years honing their act together. They are larger than life and could fill any sized venue with their infectious intensity.
Their performance at the Jazz Alley was joyful and thoroughly entertaining. Each of the four singer brings their individual strengths and styles as superb solo artists to the whole and their variety of material singing together in changing configurations, interspersed with solos, kept the set humming along and energetically well-balanced.
Manhattan Transfer’s most recent CD release, in September 2009, is a very appealing, complex and sophisticatedly arranged album, The Chick Corea Songbook, dedicated to the music of Chick Corea. The quartet sang two of Corea’s iconic hits, Five Hundred Miles High and Spain, both of which are on the album. They also sang two of my all time favorites of theirs, the lively and catchy Shaker Song and Birdland, two of their signature hits. The two males were featured in solos in the set I heard. They all take turns doing solo pieces, two per show. They both sang slow love ballads. Alan Paul sang Can’t Get Out of this Dream and Tim Hauser sang She’s Funny that Way, dedicated to his girlfriend, who was in the house. The group sang some doo-wap style tunes, including That’s the Way it Goes, Baby Come Back to Me and Boy from New York City. They also performed Doodlin’, Choo Choo Ch’Boogie and Fletcher Henderson’s Sing a Study in Brown. I asked Janis Siegel about their set lists and she said that they never repeat the same sets. With their incredible body of material, I can see why. They were accompanied by their regular, longtime band of Yaron Gershovsky, mentioned above, along with Gary Wicks, bass, Steve Hass, drums and Adam Hawley, guitar.