The vocal quartet's first studio recording in four years has joined the ranks of the many Transfer albums that exhibit the group's versatility and reaffirm their presence as one of vocal jazz's most recognizable - and talented - ensembles of all time.
While maintaining the formula that's been successful over the years - four-part harmony shares the spotlight with superb lead/background melodies - The Manhattan Transfer stays ahead of the curve by melding their unique style of jazz with contemporary experiences, whether embracing world music or bringing contemporary pop culture into the mix.
The title song, for example, is a beautiful, yet sad expression of one woman's yearning for the man she loves to call her cell phone.Consider the opening:
My phone's on vibrate for you
Electro clash is karaoke too
I try to dance Britney Spears
I guess I'm getting on in years
Throughout the years, The Manhattan Transfer has managed successfully to stick to their jazz roots, while including songs that are easily accessible to pop and R&B audiences. An example of this is the rhythmic opener, Walkin’ in N.Y., an easy-going track that has an ear-catching sound as well as paints a picture of a sassy strut down the streets of New York City.
After the title song, the group injects another bit of sass with The New JuJu Man (Tutu) , a Marcus Miller tune that was written for Miles Davis and pays tribute to Bishop Desmond Tutu. Lew Soloff does justice with the Miles-esque trumpet solo, which is the perfect partner to Cheryl Bentyne’s bouncy soprano riffs.
Next comes a delightful vocalization of Horace Silver’s Doodlin’, followed by the finger-popping The Twelfth. Core of Sound (Modinha) is a beautiful melody that features Alan Paul as lead vocalist. Tim Hauser then takes point on a brilliant cover of the Beach Boys’ Feel Flows. The Transfer overcomes the challenge of making the song theirs - not an easy task considering how well the original was done.
The group closes Vibrate with a delightful medley of classic pop hits, Come Softly to Me/I Met Him on a Sunday.
While each song on the album captures a different mood, they all have this in common:
Exceptional voices at their best.