We went to see the second set of Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis this past Monday and the first set on Tuesday. The two sets provided a rounded picture of their musical interests and inspirations. From their first fame in pop, they seem to have moved in the direction of jazz. I found their music to be something like an unadulterated expression of pure joy. I’m sure they give master classes on singing, but they could also give a master class on aging gracefully.
The MT’s sets at the Dakota drew on the work of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross more than anyone else. They performed a lot of songs with a connection to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. Hendricks had a genius for setting lyrics to jazz compositions. MT founder Tim Hauser went out of his way to salute Hendricks, drawing attention to the “philosophy” espoused in his lyrics and noting that he was still around at age 92.
I don’t know enough to say anything about Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, but the video below provides a glimpse of the spirit that moves Manhattan Transfer. Below they dip into the Basie songbook that they explored on the first Lambert, Hendricks and Ross album, Sing a Song of Basie, backed by the Count Basie Orchestra.