Craig C. (cyberlemon) from MCALLEN, TX Reviewed on 7/24/2007...
This is the original Atlantic issue pressed in West Germany, not the Rhino re-issue. The CD was a landmark for the group and one of the best of their career. Anyone interested in the Transfer needs to get this CD.
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A Pinnacle in Popular Music
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 06/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This doesn't have to be your favorite MT record. You don't even have to like Manhattan Transfer or approve of the notion that verbalizing inspired solos by jazz instrumental artists is "creative." What remains indisputable is the sheer technical aplomb, the stunning virtuosity, the singular if not unthinkable success of this "grandiose" project. I can't think of anything in the realm of any genre of vocal ensemble music that is at once as bold in concept, challenging in design, impressive in achievement as this recording.
Manhattan Transfer has now been performing for an amazing 36 years (26 for Cheryl Bentyne), and it's doubtful they'll ever top "Vocalese," the dazzling recording on which they manage to execute John Hendricks' Joycean transcriptions of Clifford Brown-Sonny Rollins' solos without missing a beat. So demanding is the program of this particular set that I would have imagined some "creative" studio editing was responsible for the final product. Imagine again. (The live concert filmed in Japan is living proof of the utter technical precision of the group not to mention its showmanship and stage-savvy choreography.)
The highlights are Sonny Rollin's "Airegin" and, my personal favorite, Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" (retitled "Sing Joy Spring"), though Thad Jones' "To You" bears testimony to the rising star of its trumpeter-composer. The "solos" of each of the four members are no less extraordinary than the lightning fast unisons and harmonic passages.
Some fans of jazz have traditionally dissed groups like Manhattan Transfer (or Lambert, Hendricks & Ross or the Four Freshmen) on the grounds that it's less jazz than "copy cat" music performed by non-musicians (i.e. vocalists). Bassist Charles Mingus was perhaps the most outspoken critic of such attempts to "transcribe" jazz into "vocalese." Whether or not these four exceptional singers are jazz musicians or jazz "ambassadors," all I know is that they've given me pleasure and inspired me to return to the originals.
The group has had a tremendous run, but before they run out of transfers and pull into the last station, I hope they record some more jazz transcriptions--preferably Mingus tunes like "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat," "Fables of Faubus," "Pithecanthropus Erectus," and "Better Git It in Your Soul." (I can hear Mingus tap dancing in his grave.)"
The real best of the Manhattan Transfer
Rick Cornell | Reno, Nv USA | 01/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My favorite Manhattan Transfer tune of all time is not on this album, and not on "The Best of" album, either; it's Basie's "Corner Pocket" from "Mecca for Moderns." But overall, this is the most even, balanced Transfer album of all. Jon Hendricks wrote some terrific words for the Transfer to sing, and the group really shows their chops on tunes like "Sing Joy Spring", "Move" and "Bennie Bailey." If you can find it, check out this album on video; the Transfer did a hilarious send-up of "The Lucy Show" on "Blee Blop Blues." Cheryl Bentine does a dead-on of Lucy. Overall, highly recommended for fans of this genre."
5 Stars is Not Enough!
Rick Cornell | 11/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember going to a Manhattan Transfer concert in 1995 (8 years after the release of this album) and repeatedly wherever I went I overheard people praising this album as THE Manhattan Transfer album.I agree. It simply is THE best of it's kind. I think it won TONS of Grammy's the vocal arrangements are top notch.If you don't have a "sophisticated" ear it'll grow on you, if you do, there are endless listening hours ahead of you to catch all the nuances of this recording. No doubt about it, this CD proved that TMT was the greatest vocal group of all time!"