Regional / Los Angeles Music Preview: THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER HOLIDAY CONCERT (Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa)

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by Tony Frankel on December 9, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


When it comes to vocal power, the jazz-pop quartet consisting of Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, Tim Hauser and Cheryl Bentyne, better-known as The Manhattan Transfer, have certainly set the industry standard for tightly wound harmonies. The amazing MANHATTANTRANSFER_HomeWebpart is that as they approach their 40th anniversary (Bentyne replaced original member Laurel Massé in1978), they still sound astounding. You can find out for yourself when the group makes a rare Southern California appearance this Monday, Dec. 16 at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. The group will present their spectacular 4-part harmonies, swinging rhythms and jazzy arrangements, but it will be an evening of joyous holiday music, reflective of their two Christmas recordings, The Christmas Album (1992), arranged by Johnny Mandel, and An Acapella Christmas (2005).

An Acapella Christmas from the Manhattan TransferIn a perfect collision of originality and 1970s nostalgia, the Manhattan Transfer resurrected jazz trends from boogie-woogie to bop, and spiced up R&B and pop. They quickly escalated to being the hottest act in New York City, and released their eponymous LP debut in 1975. Featuring vocalese covers of “Java Jive” and “Tuxedo Junction” as well as “Operator” (the gospel tune that was their first national hit), the album rejuvenated the field of vocalese, which is the setting of lyrics to established jazz orchestral instrumentals (the word was coined by jazz critic Leonard Feather to describe the first Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross album, Sing a Song of Basie). This style had been dormant since the 1960s when rock took over. The album made the quartet stars in the jazz community across Europe and America, not to mention recording stars all over the globe.

Being a fan of harmonizing by 1976 (I was already singing with Barbershop Choruses), I appreciated how they genuinely encompassed diverse musical styles while creating something wholly unique in the field of American popular song. They always seemed to be an anthropomorphization of saxophones from the 1940s. I played The Christmas Album from The Manhattan Transferthat album over and over, so needless to say I was thrilled when my high school choir director announced that “Operator” would be a selection in the 1978 Fall Festival.

The Manhattan Transfer’s discography now numbers 28. During the past three decades, they have stretched the boundaries of jazz—from urban-contemporary style to the development of more intricate vocalese—while maintaining reverence for great jazz artists of the past. As such, they are the first group to win Grammy awards for both popular and jazz categories in the same year. The Manhattan Transfer Holiday Concert will include visits to some of their well-known hits, such as “Birdland” and “Java Jive.”


The Manhattan Transfer Holiday Concert
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa
Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm
for tickets, call (714) 556-2787
or visit

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John D. Hinckley December 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Wish you would come back to Vegas!!! PLEASE!!!!


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