The Manhattan Transfer – Tonin’ (1995)

FrontCover1The Manhattan Transfer is a Grammy award-winning jazz vocal group founded in 1969 that has explored a cappella, vocalese, swing, standards, Brazilian jazz, rhythm and blues, and pop music.

There have been two editions of the Manhattan Transfer, with Tim Hauser the only person to be part of both. The first group consisted of Hauser, Erin Dickins, Marty Nelson, Pat Rosalia, and Gene Pistilli. The second version of the group, formed in 1972, consisted of Hauser, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Laurel Massé. In 1979, Massé left the group after being badly injured in a car accident and was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne.


The group’s long-time pianist, Yaron Gershovsky, accompanied the group on tour and served as music director. Trist Curless from the Los Angeles a cappella group m-pact became a permanent member in October 2014 following Hauser’s death. (wikipedia)


Tonin’ is a studio album by The Manhattan Transfer. It was released in 1995 on Atlantic Records. The expression “tonin'” is associated with the vocal groups of the 1950s and 1960s. The songs on this album are favorites of the band’s from that era. Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro makes one of her last performances on this recording. (wikipedia)


The idea on Tonin’ was to turn the Manhattan Transfer loose on a baker’s dozen of good old 1960s pop and R&B hits in league either with the original artists or prominent guests from that period and beyond. And yes, it’s a stellar list, guaranteed to stir warm and fuzzy memories, and the tunes echo the old lament of an earlier age, “they don’t write songs like they used to.” For almost any other vocal group, this would be an entertaining coup, yet for the hugely gifted, compulsively adventurous Transfer, this is just a detour into the tent of nostalgia that they had long outgrown (though they would do better in the retro arena with 1997’s buoyant Swing).


Moreover, they really have nothing new to bring to these tunes; they serve as background singers to Smokey Robinson on his “I Second That Emotion,” to Felix Cavaliere on his “Groovin’,” or — good grief — Phil Collins subbing for Marvin Gaye on “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.” Indeed, “The Thrill Is Gone” can serve as its own epitaph; even with B.B. King’s authentic guitar obbligato and Ruth Brown’s rap, the Transfer’s smooth vocal harmonies turn this gritty blues into pap. However gutsy Arif Mardin’s productions were in Atlantic’s 1960s heyday, he just goes through the crisp-sounding motions here. (by Richard S. Ginell)BackCover1

Cheryl Bentyne – Tim Hauser – Alan Paul – Janis Siegel
Mike Baird (drums on  02., 03., 08. + 11.)
Herb Besson (trombone on 01. + 04.)
Edwin Bonila (percussion on 01.)
Ruth Brown (vocals on 07.)
Robbie Buchanan (keyboards, synthesizer (on 02., 03., 05., 08. – 11.)
Tony Cadlic (trumpet on  01. + 04.)
Jorgé Casas (synclavier programming, bass on 01.)
Lenny Castro (percussion on 02., 04. + 08.)
Felix Cavaliere (vocals on 02.)
Phil Collins (vocals on 06.)
Luis Conte (percussion on 01.,02. + 08.)
Paulinho da Costa (percussion on 11.)
Mike Finnigan (organ on 11.)
Jim Hines (trumpet on 01. + 04.)
Chris Hunter (saxophone on 01. +  04.)
Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar on 04. + 06.)
Jimmy Johnson (bass on 09. + 11.)
Randy Kerber (keyboards, synthesizer on 04.)
Chaka Khan (vocals on 08.)
B.B. King (guitar on 07.)
Ben E. King (vocals on 10.)
Robbie Kondor (keyboards on 09., programming on 10. + 11.)
Abraham Laboriel (bass on 03.)
Michael Landau (guitar on 02., 03, + 08.)
Will Lee (bass on 05.)
Mark Mann (programming on 02., 03., 08. – 11.)
Joe Mardin (programming, percussion on 05., drums on 06.)
Dave Marotta (bass on  07.)
Harvey Mason (drums on 07.)
Bette Midler (vocals on 03.)
Tommy Morgan (harmonica on 02.)
Laura Nyro (piano, vocals on 05.)
Clay Ostwald (keyboards, synclavier programming on 01.)
Chris Parker (drums on 05.)
Dean Parks (guitar on 09., 10. + 11.)
Joel Peskin (saxophone on 03 + 10, flute on 09.)
Greg Phillinganes (keyboards on 07.)
Mike Porcaro (bass on 10.)
Tom Ranier (synthesizer on 04.)
John Robinson (drums on 04. + 09.)
Smokey Robinson (vocals on 04.)
Roger Rosenberg (saxophone on 01. + 04.)
David Spinozza (guitar on 05.)
Steve Skinner (programming on 02., 04., 06.,08. + 09.,  (2, 4, 6, 8, 9), keyboards on 02., 06., 08. + 11.) (2, 8, 11)
Neil Stubenhaus (bass on 04 + 06.)
James Taylor (vocals on 10.)
Michael Thompson (guitar on 04. + 09.)
Rene Toledo (guitar on 01.)
Frankie Valli (vocals on 01.)
Carlos Vega (drums on 10.)
Danny Wilensky (saxophone on 06.)
David Williams (guitar on 07.)


01. Let’s Hang On (Crewe/Linzer/Randell) (with Frankie Valli) 4.41
02. Groovin’ (Brigati/Cavaliere) (with Felix Cavaliere) 4.09
03. It’s Gonna Take A Miracle (Randazzo/Stallman/Weinstein) (with Bette Midler) 3.57
04. I Second That Emotion (Cleveland/Robinson) (with Smokey Robinson) 3.40
05. La-La (Means I Love You) (Bell/Hart) (with Laura Nyro) 4.36
06. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby (Whitfield/Strong/Bradford) (with Phil Collins) 4.44
07. The Thrill Is Gone (Hawkins/Darnell) (with Ruth Brown & B.B. King) 6.07
08. Hot Fun In The Summertime (Stewart) (with Chaka Khan) 4.17
09. Along Comes Mary (Tandyn Almer) – 3:34
10, Dream Lover (Darin) (with James Taylor) 4.54
11. Save The Last Dance For Me (Pomus/Shuman) (with Ben E. King) 4.05
12. God Only Knows (Wilson/Asher) 2.47



The official website:

Various Artists – Silent Night, Jazzy Night (2001)

FrontCover1It´s christmas time again … and I will start with some special recordings, christmas records, of course !

And I have a dream for this christmas, a very old dream, the dream of Martin Luther King:

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

MartinLutherKingI have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!”

And this ist not an american dream only … I wish all readers of this blog a peaceful December 2013.

And listen carefully to some great Jazz interpretations of all these old christmas songs !

01. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: Jingle Bells (alternate version) (1962) (Traditional) 3.19
02. Leon Parker: In A Sentimental Mood (1996) (Ellington) 4.39
03. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) (1986) (Trome/Wells) 3.11
04. Johnnie Ray: As Time Goes By (1954) (Hupfeld) 3.14
05. Mahalia Jackson: Silent Night, Holy Night (1962) (Gruber/Mohr) 5.04
06. Miles Davis & Gil Evans: Blue Xmas (master) (Dorough) 2.40
07. Glenn Miller Orchestra: Moonlight Serenade (1960) (Miller/Parish) 3.39
08. Billie Holiday: God Bless The Child (1941) (Holiday/Herzog) 2.56
09. Grover Washington Jr:. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1997) (Martin/Blane) 4.53
10. Chet Baker: I Married An Angel (1954) (Hart/Rodgers) 3.39
11. The Manhattan Transfer: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/ Santa Man (1991)(Gillespie/Coots/Paul) 3.01
12. Aretha Franklin: Winter Wonderland (1964) (Smith/Bernard) 2.12
13. Mel Tormé: Strangers In The Night (1966) (Kaempfert/Snyder/Singleton) 2.41