A study in the nature of swing, the Transfer have recorded a definitive musical treatise on the topic. Using their voices as instruments-specifically, the horn and reed sections-the group performs material that could be categorized broadly as either urban or rural swing. For example, on "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," (featuring Asleep At The Wheel) the instrumentation includes steel guitar and fiddles. "Java Jive" is performed at a more relaxed tempo and with a warmer feel. Long time Manhattan Transfer collaborator Jon Hendricks stepped up to write lyrics to Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" and Basie's "A Study In Brown." "Clouds" (music by Django Reinhardt) features a splendid violin solo by Stephane Grappelli and a breathy vocal solo passage that evokes the atmosphere of a smoky Paris nightclub. Wonderful listening.
All of the Manhattan Transfer's albums are laden with nostalgia, but few work as well as a time machine as Swing. This disc collects 13 classics from the swing era, from "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" to "Skyliner." All recall the past with the immediacy of a Burma Shave sign would. The Transfer felt the desire to recruit such talents as Ray Brown, Stephane Grappelli, Asleep at the Wheel, Ricky Skaggs, and Mark O'Connor this time out. The country contributions make these swing classics add interest to these covers, making this a Transfer CD that bears repeated listenings. --Charles R. Cross