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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lush and Lovely Christmas Album
It always surprises me that this very special Christmas album from The Manhattan Transfer doesn't show up on everyone's list of must have holiday music. Like snowflakes drifting by a frosty windowpane, there is something very wistful and melancholy about this labor of love from Alan Paul, Janis Siegal, Tim Hauser, and Cheryl Bentyne. And there is some fun mixed in as...
Published on September 25, 2008 by Bobby Underwood

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Holiday Music, But Not Usual Manhattan Transfer
Here it is in a nutshell: This is a beautifully performed and arranged, but very slow and relaxed Christmas album. It is great background music, and perfect when you want to sit and relax and be swept away after battling the holiday rush. I wouldn't recommend it for getting your Christmas party hopping. Although I like this album, I was a little disappointed with it,...
Published on December 17, 2001 by JSL


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lush and Lovely Christmas Album, September 25, 2008
By 
Bobby Underwood (Tumut NSW, Australia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Christmas Album (Audio CD)
It always surprises me that this very special Christmas album from The Manhattan Transfer doesn't show up on everyone's list of must have holiday music. Like snowflakes drifting by a frosty windowpane, there is something very wistful and melancholy about this labor of love from Alan Paul, Janis Siegal, Tim Hauser, and Cheryl Bentyne. And there is some fun mixed in as well, the trademark 1930's and 1940's elegance of this fabulous group on glorious display.

Tony Bennett joins the group on probably the most heralded track from this project, The Christmas Song. As covers go, it rivals Gloria Estefan's stunningly classy take on this Christmas chestnut. The opening song, Snowfall, is just as good, however, and deserves to kick off this marvelous collection of Christmas favorites. The Manhattan Transfer always manage a surprise or two on every album, and this is no exception.

A Christmas Love Song is one of the prettiest and certainly one of the most romantic of Christmas love songs in the vocal genius of these four talents. Johnny Mandel handled the vocal arrangements and put music to Alan and Marilyn Bergman's beautiful lyrics, placing it right up there with The Carpenters' Merry Christmas, Darling. And the fun medley, Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season, adds a smile to the melancholy.

By the time the Transfer sing Judy Garland's version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Chrismas, then close with Goodnight, you'll be a fan of both this wonderful group and this Christmas album. Having been a fan of The Manhattan Transfer since they began, "Mystery" being one of my favorite songs ever recorded, I don't know how any Christmas collection could be complete without this one.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Holiday Music, But Not Usual Manhattan Transfer, December 17, 2001
By 
JSL (Salt Lake City, UT) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Christmas Album (Audio CD)
Here it is in a nutshell: This is a beautifully performed and arranged, but very slow and relaxed Christmas album. It is great background music, and perfect when you want to sit and relax and be swept away after battling the holiday rush. I wouldn't recommend it for getting your Christmas party hopping. Although I like this album, I was a little disappointed with it, because I know what the Manhattan Transfer is capable of, and I feel that on this album they did not push the musical envelope like they usually do. I supect the record company that released the album is mostly at fault for that, trying for a safe, marketable record. The Manhattan Transfer seems relieved on subsequent albums to be back with Atlantic Records. As another reviewer recommended, listen to the samples before buying to make sure this is what you want. As always with Manhattan Transfer records, check the liner notes for some surprise guest appearances.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smoooooooth and wonderful, December 9, 2002
By 
Catherine S. Vodrey (East Liverpool, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Christmas Album (Audio CD)
Once again, The Manhattan Transfer triumphs. Their "Christmas Album" is a wonderland of smooooooth harmonies, disciplined singing, and lush orchestral backing. The album opens with the almost eerily beautiful "Snowfall," which beautifully evokes the mesmerizing sight of snowflakes falling down from the sky. They tame the usually buoyant "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" into a lush come-hither invitation for a Christmas snuggle, and it's beautiful.
Things start popping and bopping on the third tune, with a combination of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Santa Man." It's amazing how The Manhattan Transfer can turn expectations on their heads--a child's tune that's clearly geared now towards adults instead--but still do it successfully and with such musical confidence and rigor. I'm amazed, but ten years after first having bought this album, I still occasionally hear new nuances that I never noticed before. On Mel Torme's perennial "The Christmas Song," the quartet teams with Tony Bennett and the result is sumptuous. Bennett conveys the longing and sweetness of the song, while beautifully bolstered by The Manhattan Transfer singing back-up.
Two classics you don't hear much of anymore--"Caroling, Caroling" and "Happy Holiday" are both given loving attention here. "Caroling, Caroling" is a cornucopia of rich harmonies, and "Happy Holiday" is the sort of blazing, gloriously boppy arms-wide-open tune the Transfer does to perfection.
The album closes with two songs which feature Cheryl Bentyne's butterscotchy smooth voice: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and the Beatles' lullaby "Good Night"--odd when you first think about it, but such a sweet, hope-filled song that it ends up seeming just right for a Christmas album. I highly recommend the entire album--it'll surely become a holiday favorite in your household as it has in ours.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Music Anytime of Year, November 19, 2006
By 
Robert S. Weaver "Gator Dad" (Lake Forest, California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Christmas Album (Audio CD)
This collection by the Manhattan Transfer is one of the greatest collections of swinging Christmas music ever produced. The group never sounded better and the music is listenable all year long. Pop it in the CD during one of summer's "dog days" and you're instantly transported to a better place and time. When they first came out I gave them as gifts to family and friends and the reaction was unanimous: in a word, Outstanding!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely FABULOUS!, December 13, 1999
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This review is from: The Christmas Album (Audio CD)
If you love Christmas music, and if you love the jazzy style of Manhattan Transfer, then you are sure to love The Christmas Album. I just bought the CD a few days ago, and have already listened to it a dozen times. Each song is creatively arranged, and each evokes warm and cozy feelings and sentiments associated with Christmastime. The dreamy song "Snowfall" makes me wish it were actually snowing outside so I could sit by the fire and watch the flakes float lazily down! The clear articulation of each vocalist and the marvelous arrangements make this CD a real treasure. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST POP CHRISTMAS RECORDINGS, October 15, 2001
By 
R. Penola (NYC, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Christmas Album (Audio CD)
The Manhattan Transfer is always trying something new - sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. With this Christmas album, they nail it right on the head. They use their intoxicating harmonies and lush arrangements for a mostly perfect selection of classic Christmas fare, both religious and secular, as well as some off-beat but no less effective selections. Snowfall is the first thing I play every year when it is time to decorate the tree -- it actually sounds like a slow, silent snowfall in the dead of winter -- the kind we wish for on Christmas Eve. Their arrangement of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear is the best version of this classic hymn I have ever heard; it blends together angelic voices, their own fabulous tight quarter harmony and swirling strings and horns to create a hair-raising recording of epic proportions. Happy Holiday is an all-out smash; you will want to get up and jitterbug -- it features an instrumental "dance break" that raises the roof. And the Beatles' Goodnight (the children who appear at the end are forgiven) provides a gorgeous close to the album.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Christmas album, December 15, 2006
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This review is from: Christmas Album (Audio CD)
I bought this CD when it was first released back in 1992. I thought it was one of the best Christmas albums then, and I think it still is today. Actually, this is a collection of Christmas songs, with two exceptions--more about those in a minute. The Christmas songs go from solemn to swinging--with the Transfer's voices, either singly or blended (as they do so well) performing flawlessly, buoyed by Johnny Mandel's meticulous arrangements. As great as the Christmas songs are, though, the best two tunes on the album are the "non-Christmas" songs. "Snowfall," the simple, yet delightful Claude Thornhill compostiion, is one of my favorite tunes of the swing era. By its name, it has tended to become associated with the Christmas season, but it's not really a Christmas song and is a great tune anytime. The ManTran do a superb cover of it here, and Mandel's arrangement is stellar. The other tune is "Goodnight," an almost forgotten lullaby composed by Paul McCartney and recorded on the Beatles' "White Cover" album. Quite frankly, it WAS pretty forgettable as the Beatles recorded it, but the ManTran turn it into a work of vocal art here. The childs' voices (children of the Manhattan Transfer members) are a little distracting at the end of the tune, but, hey, they are the performers' kids and it IS Christmastime.

Over the years, there have been some abysmal recordings released of Christmas songs. This is definitely NOT one of those. Back in '92, the Manhattan Transfer got it right, and it's still one of the best albums of Christmas music that you can find. Even my "non-jazz-loving" friends love this album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shimmering, Velvety, Warm, Tight, WOW!, December 21, 1999
This review is from: The Christmas Album (Audio CD)
I bring out the Christmas music earlier each year, and this one is always the first to hit the player. This album is filled with the tight harmonies and precision inflections that just send shivers down your spine. The warmth just fills the room. Tony Bennet's feature is a smooth and heartfelt rendition of The Christmas Song, and the Santa Claus medley boasts a piano and vocal solo with the laid back virtuosity that is the quintessence of the Transfer - it cooks. If you can't hear the staggering depth and soul that went into this recording, you've left your chestnuts roasting on that open fire for too long. This album is hot! Instant Christmas. Amazing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Their Best, December 22, 2013
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This review is from: Christmas Album (Audio CD)
I'm sorry to say THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM by the Manhattan Transfer (originally released in 1992) is neither my favorite Christmas album nor my favorite Manhattan Transfer album. Although the foursome is in good voice, stylistically most arrangements run to the trite, falling somewhere between a kind of by-the-numbers ring-a-ding swing and the kind of easy listening that makes you wonder why they included vocals in the first place. Shopworn orchestral techniques like cascading flutes, tinkling pseudo-jazz piano, piercing violins and the uninspired clang of metronomic church bells are wrapped up in too much reverb and a general air of over-engineering. The album's first track, the pointless "Snowfall" at five minutes, thirty-three seconds made this reviewer fear for the worst but happily things picked up a little from there, though rarely reaching excellence. My personal favorites are probably "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," a harmonic delight that rarely falters in the hands of good singers, and the relatively minimalist interpretation given to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."

Minimalist is, in fact, probably the best way for the Transfer to go when interpreting Christmas standards, and by process of elimination I'd recommend the group's An Acapella Christmas instead of this CHRISTMAS ALBUM but be warned: it includes children's voices too. Yuletide buyers certainly face no dearth of options in holiday CD's; those looking for some retro ring-a-ding with a little more bite -- the kind, in other words, that will make your guests want to dance and not just wander around holding canapes on little plates -- might well consider something like Brian Setzer's Boogie Woogie Christmas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great Xmas album by the dearest Manhattan Transfer, March 19, 2006
By 
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This review is from: The Christmas Album (Audio CD)
Christmas Music is part of the American Way of Life. Year after year, American people get full of joy and the pleasure of listening to Christmas Music becomes a must.Also artists from many different styles and their labels are very conscious about it. It is rare to find an artist from the traditional pop scene who has not recorded at least one Christmas Album.

Unfortunately, this Christmas tradition in American music scene is fading away among young artists though sales keep hot in the season. This proves traditional pop artists have got a market niche which maintains year after year even selling the very same album that has been recorded many decades ago.

Repertoire is basically the same and this is another peculiar facet of Christmas Music. This is an indicator of the traditional `American way of buying music'.

It is commonplace in the USA that many different traditional pop artists record the same hit song in a season. I remember one well-known song that has been recorded by Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, and even Astrud Gilberto, besides its sensational original take. This shows Americans like to listen to that same song or repertoire as recorded specifically by their favorite artists.

It is different than the music industry and customers in Brazil, for instance. If an artist records the same songs as other one does, he is minorly categorized as a `cover artist'. This is a bad category which labels the artist a minor artist, lacking creativeness as for Brazilian market parameters.

It is very interesting, anyway, to listen to the same repertoire as recorded by so many different artists from so many different times under so many different arrangement concepts. Comparison arises inevitably. Somehow, a delicious comparison. What's the best `Jingle Bells' from Johnny Mathis to Diana Krall? Who's recorded the most creative `Silent Night' - Wynton Marsalis or Nat King Cole? There is a killer `Jingle Bells' recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra under arrangement by Michel Legrand and with Jean Pierre Rampal on flute. Ooooh God!

Year after year, those albums are made available by continuous reissuing or not. Some even keep in the label's catalog on and on even out the Christmas season.

This is the case for this `The Christmas Album' recorded by one of the dearest Jazz vocal ensembles in the place and arranged by the master Johnny Mandel.

Some uncommon and some very common songs make up the program. Here what matters is the 'Manhattan style', like it or not. I like it. I like their sometimes pop, sometimes jazzy approach.

Common Christmas songs here include `Let It Snow', `Silent Night', 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', and `It Came Upon the Midnight Clear'.

The idea to include unconventional the Beatles' `Goodnight' worked very well and it's a differentiation point. The world Christmas anthem by Mel Tormé `The Christmas Song' is great too though one may say it is preferably to be listened to in its original take as sung by Nat King Cole!

Also program opens with a beautiful rendition of 'Snowfall'.

This is a great Christmas album. The Manhattan Transfer imparts a different view to the Chritsmas repertoire.
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