MORE than 40 years have passed since The Manhattan Transfer took the UK singles chart by storm with their hit Chanson D’Amour. It stayed there for three weeks, propelling the band onto The Top of the Pops.
Although a lot of water has passed under the proverbial Manhattan Bridge since those heady days – some of it heart-wrenching – the group still continues to make some pretty fine music.
Judging by their performance at Pizza Express Live (Holborn) on Thursday August 2, their harmonies are as sweet on the ear as they have ever been. Yes, the limbs may be a little stiffer and the hair a little greyer, but they remain a slick outfit born to entertain.
Not a harmony missed. Musical synchronisation. Finely polished.
The icing on the cake is a new album – The Junction – which comprises a number of thrilling tracks. The Manhattan Transfer are thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The harmonies these days are provided by a quartet somewhat changed from the giddy days of 1977 and Chanson D’Amour. Stalwarts Janis Siegel and the lithe Alan Paul remain but they have been joined by Cheryl Bentyne (part of The Manhattan Transfer since 1978) and more recently Trist Curless, who stepped in following the death of founder Tim Hauser in 2014. They gel on stage, joined at the hip.
Of course, audiences (a sell out at Pizza Express) come to hear the hits that propelled The Manhattan Transfer to stardom in the late 1970s and early 1980s – the likes of Chanson D’Amour, Tuxedo Junction and Birdland. But this was more than a trip down memory lane. Far from it. New meets old.
Songs from their long play list – 10 Minutes Until The Savages Come, Operator, Java Jive – were followed by a number of tracks from The Junction. Indeed new tracks Cantaloop (a stunning version of Herbie Hancock’s 1964 jazz standard Cantaloupe Island) and encore Tequila were thrillingly delivered and rapturously received. There was also a tender version of Candy in tribute to the much lamented Hauser.
With pianist Yaron Gershovsky superbly directing affairs on stage, The Manhattan Transfer have plenty more harmonies left in them until they start thinking about putting their feet up.