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The Manhattan Transfer
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The Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer is an American vocal group that was established in New York City in 1972. It is famous for its mixing of jazz, big band, and popular music styles.

The group was founded by singers Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, Laurel Massť and Tim Hauser. In its early years, the group developed a cult following while playing such New York clubs as Trude Heller's, Reno Sweeney, and Max's Kansas City. In 1975 it released its first album, The Manhattan Transfer.

In 1978, Laurel Massť left the group and was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne. The lineup has remained the same since then.

The group soon met with particular success in Europe, where its next two albums, Coming Out and Pastiche, brought it a string of top 10 hits.

Its next recording, Extensions, earned The Manhattan Transfer their its first US pop hit: "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" written by Alan Paul and Jay Graydon. The album also featured "Birdland," the piece that has since become The Manhattan Transfer's signature tune. One of the most popular jazz recordings of 1980, "Birdland" brought The Transfer its first Grammy award (Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental), and the award for Best Arrangement For Voices.

In 1981, The Manhattan Transfer made music history by becoming the first group to win Grammys in both pop and jazz categories in the same year. "Boy From New York City," which broke into the top 10 on the pop charts, won them the award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and "Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)" earned them a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance, Duo or Group. Both of these songs appeared on the group's fifth recording, Mecca for Moderns.

In 1982, the group won another Grammy, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, for its rendition of the classic ode-to-the-road, "Route 66". The song appeared on the soundtrack to the Burt Reynolds film Sharky's Machine.

Its next recording, Vocalese (1985) was a tour de force of highly complex material that tested the quartet's capabilities. It was a great critical success. Vocalese received twelve Grammy nominations -- at the time making it second only to Michael Jackson's "THRILLER" as the most nominated single album ever. The Transfer won in two categories: Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, and Best Arrangement for Voices.

For Brasil, the group headed south to work with Brazilian songwriters and musicians Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Djavan and Gilberto Gil. Brasil won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

In 1991 the group released The Offbeat of Avenues.

The 1997 album Swing covered 1930s-era swing music. The most recent album of The Manhattan Transfer is The Spirit of St. Louis (2000), dedicated to the music of Louis Armstrong.

The name of the group comes from the title of the 1925 novel Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos.

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.

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