TEN Grammy Awards – TWO Platinum Albums – FOURTEEN Gold Albums are just some of the numbers one associates with the legendary Manhattan Transfer.
However one even bigger number is superceding even those achievements this year.
That number is FOURTY, as vocalists Tim Hauser, Janis Siegel, Alan Paul and Cheryl Bentyne embark on their 40th Anniversary tour.
That tour naturally includes Seattle where Manhattan Transfer appear at Jazz Alley for four nights from October 13 – 16, 2011.
For Cheryl Bentyne this is a home coming. The native of Mount Vernon, Washington said of playing in Seattle:
“Always fun… hard to get enough comp tickets! kidding! But my time is always packed seeing friends and, family. My friends made me who I am and it’s like no time has passed when we hang. Some dear girlfriends go back to 3 years old!!!!
These are my roots and they know me longer and deeper than anyone else. I am forever grateful for their support and love and understanding of my crazy years they went through with me as well.”
Alan Paul has a fond memory of the city too:
“My favorite memory was the first time we played in Seattle back in 77. I had no idea what to expect, the group was still relatively unknown but when we walk out onto the stage I was taken back that the theatre was packed to capacity and fans were wooing at us.”
A 40th anniversary tour inevitably means Manhattan Transfer fans of ‘olde’ will join with their more passionate hardcore fans who follow every tour.
We asked Paul if the conjoining of the two fanbases made the selection of the playlist a more thoughtful process and how he expressed his joy at seeing young faces at the gigs:
“I would assume so. We’ve noticed that there is a new generation of high school and college students that are coming to our shows because of a resurgence in vocal jazz harmony in the schools. It’s nice to see that the torch is being handed down once again just as it was with us. To a certain extent it affects the playlist, because we want to share The Manhattan Transfer story with our audience so that in effect will change our playlist and presentation.”
Bentyne chips in:
“It’s wonderful. I always love fresh, new ears. As it is 40 years, our shows cover a lot of musi! As this is an historic show, we shall be true to our beginnings and journey through our careers… ….still not sure how we are going to squeeze them all in.”
Cheryl Bentyne’s enthusiasm for her craft and her company is evident in all her responses, but when asked how they kept it going over four decades, she was slightly more serious, both about her friends AND the art form:
“We love to sing harmony and as corny as it may sound we truly enjoy each other. I believe this is the secret of our longevity. We love of the art form (harmony) and love of each other. We still see very few professional vocal groups coming up. Hope it changes in our lifetime.
Young singers are out there but the GLEE factor has somehow created a “gotta dance and keep moving” attitude about group singing. Ok… this is common (The Sing-Off) but I worry that the art form itself is being sorely ignored and secondary to performance. anyway, don’t get me started.”
“Our fans keep on coming so we keep on singing,” adds Alan Paul more simply.
As well as their 40th Anniversary, they are promoting the highly anticipated release of The Chick Corea Songbook which marks the innovative vocal quartet’s first new record 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 Alan’s pick of the album “Spain” and “500 Miles High,” which is Cheryl’s favourtie.
Corea, who plays on the CD, has also contributed an original composition entitled “Free Samba” especially for this album. The recent 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.
Paul sees the new album as not a new beginning for the group but as something that they had always wanted to do:
“I wouldn’t say it’s a departure but rather an arrival. We thought of doing something with Chick in the mid seventies when we first met him but our musicality wasn’t evolved enough. It took our maturity to finally record the rhythmic and harmonic complexities of his music.”
We leave the last word to Cheryl Bentyne, our Seattle ‘homecoming queen’.
” Everytime we play Seattle it’s a great time! My group loves this city!!!!Makes me proud!Seattle was one of the first solid fan bases for the group. Great restaurants(serious foodies in the group) great Market hang!!!! gorgeous weather!!!!…..usually……”
Tickets may be purchased online at the Jazz Alley site, by phoning Jazz Alley at 206-441-9729 or contacting TicketMaster at 206-628-0888. All sets are all ages. Vouchers, donated gift certificates, student discount and 2 for 1 cards are not applicable for this show.