I've always felt that the Manhattan Transfer has been sort of taken for grantedin popular music circles. They are almost too good. For decades now they have epitomized the classic vocal group, moving very easily into a variety of styles - Brazilian, swing, bebop, and flat-out pop. The four members - Tim Hauser, Alan Paul, Cheryl Bentyne, and Janis Siegel - have been together quite a long time now, and it certainly shows in their live performances and on thisnew recording. The vocal harmonies are tight beyond belief, and they swing their collective tails off.
In this new live set , recorded live on tour in Japan, they concentrate mainly on the music of Louis Armstrong and other swing era warhorses, and the result is an electrifying performance, sparked by a relentlessly rocking backupband and several featured soloists. The highlights are many , but a few must bementioned. Tim Hauser has a hilariously swinging time with "Old Man Mose" , the band pushing him to no end. Cheryl Bentyne displays her gorgeous ballad pipes on "Sugar" and "Do You Know What Means To Miss New Orleans?" "Up A LazyRiver" is given a fresh new treatment with Alan Paul (who has matured remarkedly as a vocalist) and the amazing Lew Soloff on trumpet (remember hissolo years ago on the Blood Sweat and Tears hit "Spinning Wheel"?) Here he doeshis best Louis Armstrong imitation, with the halting phrasing and spectacularhigh notes. Quite a performance. Janis Siegel puts her individual stamp on"Stompin' At Mahogany Hall" and "Nothin' Could Be Hotter" as well as seamlesslead vocals on several other tracks. "Twilight Zone", a Transfer hit from sometime ago, is thrown in for good measure, and it cooks, thanks in no small partto that terrific band. The set concludes with a lovely , quiet version of "MyFoolish Heart", the famous Transfer harmonies remarkedly intact.
This impressive set shows that the Transfer is still at the peak of their collective powers, and the association with Telarc should be a fruitful one. As I stated earlier, they are too good, and its time we acknowleged them as one of the very best of a dying breed, THE classic vocal group. This CD is proof positive . "Couldn't Be Hotter" indeed.