In 2009, Grammy-winning jazz/pop vocal group THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER celebrated their 40th Anniversary with the highly anticipated release of The Chick Corea Songbook. The Chick Corea Songbook, which marks the highly innovative vocal quartet’s first new recording in five years, was inspired by the classic work of jazz great Chick Corea, and features fresh and exciting vocal interpretations of many of his popular compositions, including “Spain” and “500 Miles High.” Corea, who plays on the CD, has also contributed an original composition entitled “Free Samba” especially for this album. The release also features special guest appearances by some of the finest musicians in the industry, including Christian McBride, Airto, Alex Acuña, Fred Hersch, Edsel Gomez, and Lou Marini, among others.
The platinum-selling, worldwide chart-topping super group, widely renowned for broadening the musical landscape with their innovative, genre-defying sound, made Grammy history in 1981 by becoming the first group to win Grammys simultaneously in both the jazz and pop categories. In 1985, the group put out the second most-honored album in pop history with Vocalese, earning an impressive 12 Grammy nominations, surpassed only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller at the time. Produced by Tim Hauser, Vocalese become known as the group’s tour de force effort, with Jon Hendricks, the recognized master of this art, composing all of the lyrics for the album. To date, The Manhattan Transfer has won 10 Grammys and has been nominated for 17.
The Manhattan Transfer are responsible for bringing Brazilian music to American radio stations and for introducing Bob Marley and The Wailers to American television audiences, further broadening the horizons of music lovers everywhere. In its formative years, the group developed a strong cult following while playing such New York clubs as Trude Heller’s, Reno Sweeney, and Max’s Kansas City, drawing iconic artists such as Mick Jagger and David Bowie. In 1975 they cut their Atlantic debut album (signed by the legendary Ahmet Ertegun), entitled The Manhattan Transfer, and landed their own highly experimental television show on CBS. They were particularly successful in Europe, where their next two albums, Coming Out and Pastiche, brought them a string of top-10 hits. A live album, The Manhattan Transfer Live, soon followed.
Their next album, Extensions, earned them their first domestic pop hit: “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone,” penned by Alan Paul and Jay Graydon and featuring their version of the hit song “Birdland.” The most played jazz record of 1980, “Birdland” brought The Transfer their first Grammy (“Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental”), and the award for “Best Arrangement For Voices,” which Janis took home. In the following decade, the group released a number of well-received albums on different labels, including Columbia and Telarc. Forty years later, The Manhattan Transfer arguably remain the most respected and honored vocal quartet today, after topping both the Downbeat and Playboy “Best Jazz Vocal Group” polls consecutively for a decade from 1980-1990.
The Manhattan Transfer is Cheryl Bentyne, vocals; Tim Hauser, vocals; Alan Paul, vocals; and Janis Siegel, vocals. The group remains a major staple both within the jazz community and the mainstream music community, as they continue to enlighten listeners by bringing different genres of music to the forefront of the jazz.