Anyone who loves jazz music must know about the amazing vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. What some may not know is that the Manhattan Transfer comes from the Name of Two different groups. The first group made one album, then broke up in 1969, the other group is the one, which is the basis for this article. They began in 1972 and still sing today. The Manhattan Transfer does an exquisite job of blending jazz music, popular music and big band together.
The members of the group are: Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, Laurel Masse and Tim Hauser. Their first album entitled, The Manhattan Transfer brought them a hit single, a gospel song called “Operator”. In 1971 an album was made with only one of the members, Tim Hauser. The album Jukin’ was really considered to be released by a different group. This vocal group did a spectacular job performing in Europe.
The next two albums, Pastiche and Coming Out had a number of top ten hit singles. “Chanson D’Amour” went to number one in the United Kingdom in 1977, but didn’t make the charts in the U.S. After that, the group released The Manhattan Transfer Live Album recorded in the United Kingdom. After that, Laurel was terribly injured in a car accident and Cheryl Bentyne took her place. The group has been the same ever since. They went on to make another hit in the U.S. with “Twilight Zone/Twilight Zone” from the album Extensions. This same album gave The Manhattan Transfer their most recognized sound. “Birdland” written by Jon Hendricks gave them their first Grammy award for the Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental. They also an award for best arrangement for voices.
The group broke their record in 1981 by winning a Grammy in a pop and jazz category that year. Jazz music was taking a new and enjoyable turn. “Boy From New York City” made it into the top ten, and won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. “Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)” was for Best Jazz Performance Duo or group. Both singles were on their fifth album Mecca for Modems.
By the time their album Bodies and Souls was released in 1983, they took a new turn in jazz music again, their songs becoming more contemporary and urban. “Mystery”, “Spice of Life” were hit singles. “Mystery” is one of the best Manhattan Transfer songs. Anita Baker covered it on her Rapture album. With their next album Vocalese, they were going for complexities and were very successful. That album got not one, but 12 Grammy nominations. It was number two to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. They won for two Grammys. One for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group and Best Arrangement for Voices.
Lately, the group has released An Acapella Christmas in Japan, 2005. Last year they have released The Symphony Sessions, which is a greatest hits collection. The songs were re-done for pop orchestras and symphonies. Late last year, they released a DVD called The Christmas Concert, which was on the PBS network. The Manhattan Transfer also did an original song for a film, called “Trail of the Screaming Forehead”.
The Manhattan Transfer has really changed and expanded the style of jazz music. Each of the members has appeared on other artist’s albums as guest. To date they have recorded twenty-four albums, and each have done solo albums. Janis’s solo career being the most popular.