A Grand Experience: The Manhattan Transfer

By Jenny Lee

The nippy temperature outside did not dampen the energy that was at The Grand Theatre to see vocal quartet Manhattan Transfer, and their stage presence showed that the passing decades had not diminished the timelessness and elegance of the group. Though Tim Hauser and Cheryl Bentyne were absent due to health issues, the group was not lacking for talent. Trist Curless and Margaret Dorn performed splendidly along with original members Janis Siegel and Alan Paul for an unforgettable evening.
Accompanied by the lighting fast fingers of their pianist, the quartet performed a range of tunes, from doo-wop to jazz to soul, adding a festive twist. Their harmony and rhythm resounded with the extraordinary energy and talent they are so well known for.
Their renditions, from favourites like Ella Fitzgerald’s “I Found My Yellow Basket,” to the deep husky tones of an urban Berlin tune, to the humourous “The Gift” written by Dennis Deal of The Accidentals, there was a harmony for any music lover.
Just as Manhattan Transfer could make something sound new all over again, the acts at the Grand have continued to prove the same. Striking a balance between the classic and the contemporary, it is evident that the design in mind is to provide a diverse offering that will not only appeal to patrons but to also keep true to Canadian roots and talent.
Manhattan Transfer also included a selection from each of their holiday albums including fresh spins on “White Christmas (where they joke about trying to write from a new perspective, like someone living in really hot weather), “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Dreaming of a White Christmas”.
The incredible vocal range and power of the four was only enhanced by the interplay between voice and the drums and cello. At times one was held in the grip of the back and forth between the quartet and the instruments, which also held their own. They also showcased “vocalese” a feat of vocal style in which voices take the place of horns and words are matched to the notes of the original recording.
It is impressive how the members of Manhattan Transfer have continued to evolve and to draw crowds everywhere they perform. In the same way, culture in Kingston continues to offer and attract some of the best, and arguably because of the solid emphasis on developing and retaining talent, as well as ensuring that Kingston’s arts scene is on the map. Thanks to organizations like the Kingston Arts Council and the collaborative efforts of businesses, non-profits, artists, and the community, the arts has flourished.
The performance is but one of the many excellent performances and productions taking place at The Grand Theatre. Treat the little ones to Pinocchio and The Very Hungry Caterpillar , or bring a loved one to Kingston Symphony’s many classical music performances that are sure to impress. The Grand also a line-up including Canadian favourites like Hey Rosetta!, Paul Langlois, and Jill Barber, not to mention the much beloved Stuart McLean and The Vinyl Cafe, celebrating its 20th season of the popular radio show.