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Vocalese

25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 1, 1985
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Vocalese + Swing + The Very Best of the Manhattan Transfer
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Editorial Reviews

Vocalese by The Manhattan Transfer

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 1985)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 1985
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino Atlantic
  • Run Time: 45 minutes
  • ASIN: B000002II2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,699 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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4 star
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Landsberg VINE VOICE on December 26, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is an incredible album. I could swear it came out earlier than 87, because I remember being at Bodine HS in Philly. I remember going down to the old THIRD STREET JAZZ to buy it in Vinyl. Was 87 ALL that long ago ? -- And besides, a CLASSIC Jazz album done in the '80s ? Well, this one belongs in any true Jazz affecianado's library. - - Here's why got the album... I was a huge Eddie Jefferson fan. Eddie Jefferson was the Godfather of Vocalese -- the art of ascribing lyrics to often humorous high speed heavy swinging bebop solos, which is what this album was about... I heard cuts on our now half defunct Jazz radio station and ran out and got it. Each and every song on the album made an impression on me and made me want to go out and hunt down the instrumental versions, so the impact of the album carried on for years... To that extent I think this album is not only great for straight ahead Jazz (as well as TRANSFER fans) but it would be a great gift to any friends you have who are just getting into Jazz, even children who might be dazzled by the TRANSFER's vocal acrobatics or for those unfortunate who actually think Kenny G is a gifted "Jazz" soloist (ROFL). - If I'm not mistaken this was also the album that introduced Bobby McFerrin to the public at large via his brilliant performance of NIGHT IN TUNISIA. - - I also remember many great musicians (who would pass within a few years) also doing cameos on the album. - - Anyway, listen to the samples, then get this album, but dont forget to listen to the people who it paid tribute too as well. LAMBERT HENDRIX AND ROSS, KING PLEASURE and EDDIE JEFFERSON especially - - also check out the MARK MURPHY anthology.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Caponsacchi HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This doesn't have to be your favorite MT record. You don't even have to like Manhattan Transfer or approve of the notion that verbalizing inspired solos by jazz instrumental artists is "creative." What remains indisputable is the sheer technical aplomb, the stunning virtuosity, the singular if not unthinkable success of this "grandiose" project. I can't think of anything in the realm of any genre of vocal ensemble music that is at once as bold in concept, challenging in design, impressive in achievement as this recording.

Manhattan Transfer has now been performing for an amazing 36 years (26 for Cheryl Bentyne), and it's doubtful they'll ever top "Vocalese," the dazzling recording on which they manage to execute John Hendricks' Joycean transcriptions of Clifford Brown-Sonny Rollins' solos without missing a beat. So demanding is the program of this particular set that I would have imagined some "creative" studio editing was responsible for the final product. Imagine again. (The live concert filmed in Japan is living proof of the utter technical precision of the group not to mention its showmanship and stage-savvy choreography.)

The highlights are Sonny Rollin's "Airegin" and, my personal favorite, Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" (retitled "Sing Joy Spring"), though Thad Jones' "To You" bears testimony to the rising star of its trumpeter-composer. The "solos" of each of the four members are no less extraordinary than the lightning fast unisons and harmonic passages.

Some fans of jazz have traditionally dissed groups like Manhattan Transfer (or Lambert, Hendricks & Ross or the Four Freshmen) on the grounds that it's less jazz than "copy cat" music performed by non-musicians (i.e. vocalists).
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Leslie O. Richard on May 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I would have to say that this CD came along at a time in my life when I really needed it. I find that all the tracks are ones that I sing in my head often after I listen to this CD. "Sing Joy Spring" would be, if one had to choose, the one track I play over and over. Other tracks such as "Blee Blop Blues", "To You", "Move", and "Killer Joe" are notable tracks as well. If one had to buy only one CD that truly represented this group, this CD would be in the running according to this reviewer.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tony Thomas on December 2, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like so many here, the memory of getting this 20 years ago on tape then stays with me. I was very new to Jazz other than the classic initial bop sides back then. Now looking back on these recordings, and having heard most of the instrumental cuts these songs are modeled on is that this is a great contribution to improvisation and jazz, great solos taken, not simply great solos and arrangements copied. Also, I think the added words contribute to the jazziness, the memory,and the entire discourse of the tunes. After all, Jazz is more openly a discourse than much else, where one version, one solo even, of a song does not exist independently but only in dialog with the rest of the recordings and versions. The words here add to the general perception of these tunes that we all have, and I am sure soloists whether instrumental or vocal are talking with them too.

To put it more succintly: Manhatten Transfer is just an excellent Jazz group producing great Jazz arrangements and great solos. That they do happen to sing is not just a good trick, but their voices just happen to be their instruments.
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