It’s been nearly 40 years since Tim Hauser, a former Madison Avenue marketing executive, paid his bills by driving a New York City cab while aspiring to form a harmony vocal quartet that could authentically embrace varied musical styles and still create something wholly unique in the field of American popular song. Significant as it is that the Manhattan Transfer has been around for 40 years, it is far more remarkable that those four decades have been marked by near-continuous artistic expansion and advancement.
When asked to describe The Manhattan Transfer’s popularity, Janis Siegel (vocals) said “People see in us something that they wish there was more of in the world, which is harmony…and no matter how technologically advanced the music business becomes, I think people will always still want to hear the sound of the human voice, especially raised in harmony.”
Along the way, with over 20 albums to their credit, they’ve delivered more than their share of masterpieces, including the bold, vibrant Pastiche(1978) and the zoot-sharp Swing (1997). But none, save the landmark Hendricks tribute Vocalese (1990), can match the ingeniousness of their most recent release, The Chick Corea Songbook (2009). In the liner notes, band member Janis Siegel rightly describes it as a “magical and transformational odyssey.”