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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Manhattan Transfer, playing its final show in Spokane Saturday, on its swan song tour

Manhattan Transfer will sing at the Fox in Spokane on Saturday night.   (F. Scott Schafer.)
By Ed Condran The Spokesman-Review

This is the year of the swan song tour.

Manhattan Transfer is among the many groups that’s on its final jaunt. The vocal group, which was founded in 1969 will be history by Christmas and that’s just fine with vocalist Trist Curless.

“I’ve been with Manhattan Transfer for a decade and it’s been amazing but all good things must come to an end,” Curless said while calling from Los Angeles. “That’s the way it goes and I must accept that. The traveling doesn’t get any easier. We all got together to talk about the future of the band (in 2022) and it just seems like it was time. It’s been a wonderful run for this group.”

The 11-time Grammy winners has enjoyed a great deal of success as an eclectic vocal group, which renders a capella, swing, standards, Brazilian jazz, rhythm and blues and pop.

Curless, 52, who replaced founding member Tim Hauser, who died in 2014, was a fan dating back to his days with the vocal group, M-pact.

“Manhattan Transfer had a huge effect on me,” Curless said. “I first learned of Manhattan Transfer when I heard ‘Boy From New York City.’ I just loved their four-part harmonies from the start. I was hooked by their use of R&B and jazz. They were a big influence on M-pact.”

There was no group quite like Manhattan Transfer when it emerged during the ‘70s. The quartet, which will perform Saturday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, was a quirky act that scored attention in Los Angeles due to its vocal harmonies and cabaret-inspired visuals.

The group scored success across the Atlantic with the 1977 single “Chanson d’Amour,” which hit the top of the charts in the United Kingdom and went Top 10 across Europe.

“Extensions,” was a breakthrough album for Manhattan Transfer, which yielded the single “Birdland,” which won a pair of Grammys for the quartet.

Manhattan Transfer, which also includes vocalists Alan Paul, 73, Janis Siegel, 71, and Cheryl Bentyne, 69, made music history in 1981 by becoming the first group to win Grammy awards for popular and jazz categories in the same year courtesy of “The Boy From New York City.”

The group’s cover of “The Ad Libs” hit the Top 10 on the Hot 100 and won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The single “Until I Met You (Corner Pocket),” earned Manhattan Transfer a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. More hardware was on the way. In 1982, the group won another Grammy, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group, for its rendition of “Route 66.”

“That’s not a bad stretch for a vocal group,” Curless said.

The run continues with the aptly titled final album, “Fifty,” which was released in 2022, marking the group’s 50th birthday. Manhattan Transfer shows off its range, from their baroque version of Artie Shaw’s “The Man I Love” to alt-rock heroes XTC’s “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul.” Manhattan Transfer earns style points with quirky revamped version of Bernard Herrmann’s “Twilight Zone” theme from its 1979 “Extensions.”

“’Fifty’ was our pandemic album and it will be the group’s final album,” Curless said. “It’s a great way to say goodbye. I’m thrilled to have had a decade with this wonderful group. It’s been surreal and we just plan to enjoy these final few months.”