Monday’s Music Move Me: The Manhattan Transfer

Scriptor chose this week’s theme: “Songs from Grammy winners of the 1980’s.” Well, you know me, I have to be difficult and start scouting the Grammy website because I want to be different.

My research turned up an interesting fact: The Manhattan Transfer, always one of my favorite vocal acts, won a total of seven Grammys in the period from 1980-1989. That certainly deserves some attention. Here are the seven songs (or albums) by Tim Hauser, Alan Paul, Cheryl Bentyne, and Janis Siegel that won Grammys in the 1980’s.

1980: Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal Or Instrumental, “Birdland” Originally written by Joe Zawinul and performed as an instrumental by his band, Weather Report.

1981: Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo Or Group, “Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)” A jazz standard written by the amazing Freddie Green, late guitarist with The Count Basie Orchestra, with lyrics by Donald E. Wolf.

1981: Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, “Boy From New York City” A hit for The Ad Libs in 1964, The Manhattan Transfer took it to #7 in August 1981.

1982: Best Jazz Vocal Performance Duo Or Group, “Route 66” Written by Bobby Troup (Dr. Joe Early on Emergency! and former spouse of Julie London) in 1946 and recorded by The Nat King Cole Trio that year. The Transfer gives it their Grammy-winning touch here.

1983: Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo Or Group, “Why Not! (Manhattan Carnival)” Can’t find much on this song, other than it was written by Michel Camilo, Julie Elgenberg, and Hilary Koski and it appears on their 1983 album Bodies and Souls.

1985: Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo Or Group, Vocalese This whole album took the Grammy. Here is the Sonny Rollins standard, “Airegin,” from the album.

1988: Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, Brasil Another full-album win, this for their first foray into Brazilian music. This is “Soul Food To Go.”

The group earned one more Grammy in 1991 for the song “Sassy,” from their album The Offbeat Of Avenues.

Hope you didn’t feel overwhemed by the size of this. The Manhattan Transfer is one of those bands you don’t hear much about. That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for February 27, 2017.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


21 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Move Me: The Manhattan Transfer

    1. They haven’t gone anywhere, as far as I know, other than Tim Hauser (the more-or-less leader) passing away. Lately, according to their website, they’re touring with Take 6 (they were in High Point, NC last Saturday) and also worked with Pentatonix on their Christmas album. They haven’t done an album of new material since 2009, but who knows what could happen there. Stay tuned.

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  1. John, honestly I totally forgot about Manhattan Transfer. I kept thinking, how do I know this group and couldn’t put my finger on it until I got to “Boys From New York City”, then a light went on!. BING I really like their sound – so different! I’m gonna have to do a little research on them to see what other song titles strike a cord with me. I’m happy you found something a little different for this week’s mewsic theme – very good job & thanks for joining the 4M crew on the dance floor, my friend! I’ll see ya tomorrow. 🙂


    1. Remarkable harmony, and weren’t afraid to go in new directions. They’ve collaborated more recently with Take 6 and Pentatonix, two other groups that feature strong harmony. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of them.

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  2. These were staples growing up 🙂 I am proud to say I still know all the words, even though I hadn’t listened to any of it since… errr… decades ago. Am even prouder to say Sassy liked most of them upon playing them! Maybe I should hunt down some cds! Fun stuff, John, thanks for sharing.


    1. The most recent one was recorded in 2009, The Chick Corea Songbook. There are quite a few “Best of” packages as well. They are excellent singers and dedicated musicians. Enjoy!

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  3. Manhattan transfer provided me with one of my favorite television moments. I was watching the Mike Douglas show, cohosted that week by a very drunk Robert Goulet. Manhattan transfer performed, followed by an interview. One of the men in the group was clearly homosexual., and he was wearing eyeshadow and glitter. Goulet says to him, “what dies your wife think about all this makeup?” He sheepishly replies, “I’m not married.” “What about your girlfriend?” Goulet persists, when a panicking Mike Douglas stepped in. No outing on national television in those days! Sadly I can’t find a YouTube clip.


    1. He must have been talking about Alan Paul, who is now married (to a woman) and has a daughter. When they first started, they affected an Art Deco appearance that was a little hard to stomach, but it was part of the act.


  4. Transfer always delivers top rate performances. I have a few of their recordings, but I rarely listen to them anymore. Kind of like how I don’t listen to much of anything anymore except when doing the Battle of the Bands rounds and set up my own Battle posts.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


  5. THere was a time in college when I did come home from class and listen to either Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters or Weather Report’s Heavy Weather.

    These days Zawinul and Pastorius wake me up with Birdland. Both are gone now.

    We’re lucky to live in a time when musical performances are so well preserved in recordings. Before the early 1900s you needed live musicians to hear something.


    1. Right, and when the performer was gone, you never heard them again. The artists we grew up listening to are either no longer with us, retired, or working the oldies circuit, but they left the recordings behind (in some cases, a tremendous catalog) so we don’t forget them. When I first heard of Django Reinhardt, people said it was almost impossible to find any recordings of him playing. When CD’s came out, all of a sudden it there was an explosion of albums of him playing. We benefitted from not just the CD/digital technology, but from different distribution channels that made the music more available. Of course, the downside is that a lot of music that isn’t worth preserving is being preserved, but I’d rather that than not having the music I do enjoy.


    1. They were an acquired taste for me. Once I got past the Art Deco look I realized they were a group of talented singers who were as good as soloists as they were as a group. Their harmonies are spot on, and that generates a lot of excitement. But again, you like what you like.

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