About the Show
The Manhattan Transfer lights up the stage with their eclectic and exciting vocal mix of jazz-fusion, a cappella and pop. Touring together since 1979, the award-winning group skillfully harmonizes their hits to take audiences on a trip through time. Performing classics like “Birdland” and disco hits like “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone,” The Manhattan Transfer breathes life into songs of the past.
Nearly 45 years ago, former Madison Avenue marketing executive Tim Hauser aspired to form a unique harmony vocal quartet that could authentically embrace a mix of musical styles. Since then, The Manhattan Transfer won ten Grammys, cementing their status as one of the most important and innovative vocal groups in the history of popular music.The first manifestation of the group was established in New York City in 1969. Hauser worked with band members Erin Dickens, Marty Nelson, Pat Rosalia and composer and friend Gene Pistilli for several years, releasing their first album Jukin’ in 1971. It was later re-released under the title The Manhattan Transfer and Gene Pistilli. In 1972, Pistilli and the group parted ways.
A new version of the group formed in 1973 consisting of Hauser, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel and Laurel Massé. After playing at Max’s Kansas City, a New York City nightclub known for early performances of notable artists like Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen, the group developed a cult following. They were soon signed to Atlantic Records and, in 1975, released The Manhattan Transfer, which included their first successful single, “Operator.” They successfully recorded and toured for the next few years until 1978 when soprano Cheryl Bentyne replaced Massé.
The group recorded the album Extensions in 1979, with the hit “Birdland,” which earned them their first Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. Janis Siegel was also awarded the Grammy for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices for her arrangement of “Birdland.” In 1981, the group made music history by becoming the first group to win Grammy Awards for both popular and jazz categories for their Best of… album. In 1982, they won another Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group for their rendition of “Route 66.”
The critical praise and commercial success of the group’s first seven studio albums could hardly have prepared them for the monumental twelve Grammy nominations they received in 1985 for the album Vocalese. Those twelve nominations placed Vocalese second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the most Grammy nominated album in one year.
Hauser began singing professionally at 15 with his doo-wop quartet The Criterions. He attended Villanova University in Philadelphia, spending much of his time energetically expanding his musical interests. He was a member of the Villanova Singers and Spires/Coventry Lads, along with notable classmate Jim Croce. Hauser also spent four years on the staff of the college radio station WWVU. In 1963, he graduated with a B.S. in Economics and served in the U.S. Air Force. Before The Manhattan Transfer, he worked a number of jobs, including taxi driver and marketing research analyst.
Like her bandmates, Janis Siegel started performing early. At age 12 she sang with an all-girl pop trio called The Young Generation. By the time the three girls had graduated high school they had released two singles. When they began playing folk music, they rechristened themselves Laurel Canyon. One night, cabbie Tim Hauser picked up Laurel Canyon’s conga player who invited him to a party. Siegel and Hauser met and agreed to work together on what would later become The Manhattan Transfer.
Alan Paul has delighted audiences all over the world both as a solo artist and with The Manhattan Transfer. Growing up in New Jersey, he sang to whoever would listen, earning himself a scholarship that enabled him to study privately in New York City. After high school, he earned a B.A. in Music Education. He was working in the Catskills when he heard about an audition for the original Broadway production of Grease in 1972. He auditioned and earned the part of Teen Angel/Johnny Casino. During Grease, he met Tim, Laurel, and Janis who needed a male voice to complete their quartet. He realized he had found a group that was as passionate about music as he was, and joined The Manhattan Transfer.
Cheryl Bentyne started singing at 13 with her father’s Dixieland and swing band at the Elks Lodge in Mount Vernon, Washington. She studied theatre and music in college and played with the New Deal Rhythm Band for four years. She moved to Hollywood in 1977 and in 1978 heard about an audition for The Manhattan Transfer. She recorded and toured with the group for the years when they earned most of their Grammys. She also successfully earned her own Grammy for her solo work as a composer.
Since 1979, Yaron Gershovsky has functioned as musical director and pianist/keyboardist for The Manhattan Transfer. He tours with the band and helps with backup music as well as many arrangements, including the Grammy Award-winning song “Why Not?” He also served as musical director for Smokey Joe’s Café and vocal arranger for City of Angels on Broadway.