Storied, ten-time Grammy-winning vocal group the Manhattan Transfer are marking their 50th anniversary with the new studio album Fifty, to be released on September 23 digitally, and October 21 on CD, via Craft Recordings.
To coincide with the news, the group have announced that they will start their final worldwide tour in America in October, to be followed by an international itinerary. The tour continues back in the US with shows in December, then in January and March 2023.
The new, 10-track set features the quartet teaming up with Germany’s renowned WDR Funkhausorchester Köln (WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne), as well as with symphony arrangers such as the Grammy-winning Jorge Callandreli and Vince Mendoza. Other collaborators include vocal arranger Amanda Taylor of säje, as the group revisit their signature hits across the decades.
The recordings on Fifty include new arrangements of “Chanson D’Amour,” “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone,” and “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul.” The album also features the Manhattan Transfer's first recording of George and Ira Gershwin’s classic “The Man I Love” and Brian Wilson's masterpiece for the Beach Boys, “God Only Knows.” The later interpretation is now available to stream. The album also features liner notes by co-founder Alan Paul, who looks back on the group’s peerless half-century of achievement.
The final, extensive global tour will start on October 7 in Modesto, CA, and features concerts across the US, Europe, the UK, Japan, and Australasia, with dates continuing through 2023. Ticket-buyers at select shows will receive a digital copy of Fifty with their purchase, with details at the respective box office websites.
Fifty years of harmony
Say the group in a statement: “After fifty years of creating and singing harmony, we would like to celebrate with our upcoming release – aptly named Fifty – and acknowledge all the joy you have brought us on our musical journey as we begin our 50th anniversary and final world tour. We look forward to seeing you!”
The album was recorded across several continents during lockdown, and came to life after the group performed a sellout show in Cologne with the WDR Funkhausorchester Köln in January 2020. Co-founder Paul writes in his liner notes, “The collaboration between the group and the symphony was such an exhilarating and enjoyable experience that we all thought it would be wonderful to do a recording project together.”
That became a greater challenge when the pandemic curtailed global travel, but under the guidance of vocal producer Dave Thomas, of Take 6, the recording was completed in stages,. A rhythm section recorded in New Jersey and Manhattan, with the symphony orchestra cutting their parts in isolated sections at the WDR studios.
‘A formidable task’
Writes Paul of the musical choices for Fifty: “We wanted the choice of songs to somehow represent the significant transitions of our music over the span of five decades, which was a rather formidable task. What interested us was choosing material that either represented a significant moment in the group’s history, or songs that perhaps were not necessarily hits, but ones we really loved. Also, another major consideration was choosing songs that we felt would inspire and work well with the symphony because this was a collaboration.”
The group’s legacy includes 19 singles, 29 albums, ten Grammy Awards for the group and its members from 20 nominations, and induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Their music has been extensively in major films and TV shows and they’ve collaborated with such giants as Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, Laura Nyro, Phil Collins, Take 6, B.B. King, Chaka Khan, James Taylor, Frankie Valli, Joe Zawinul, Asleep at the Wheel, Stéphane Grappelli, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, and Dizzy Gillespie.
The album is a fitting tribute not only to a half-century of success and creative excellence by the “Man Tran,” but to the memory of co-founder Tim Hauser, who died in 2014. His three vocal partners, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Cheryl Bentyne, were then joined in the line-up by Trist Curless.
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For the latest music news and exclusive features, check out uDiscover Music.uDiscover Music is operated by Universal Music Group (UMG). Some recording artists included in uDiscover Music articles are affiliated with UMG.