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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Listening to Manhattan Transfer

Kate Rice


I don’t have much of a bucket list. Most times, when I have an amazing experience, I’ll refer to it as something that was “on my bucket list” after the fact. (Notable exception: Watching my awesome friend Pat compete on Jeopardy — in person! It was spectacular!)

One of those bucket-list-after-the-fact things is the time I saw the legendary Vocal Jazz group Manhattan Transfer live here in Casper during the 2019 Kinser Jazz Festival. One of the most fun, entertaining and satisfying shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve been listening to these cats for over 40 years. They’ve been making the world a better place with their harmonies for over 50 years! 

Watching them perform was glorious. These folks aren’t spring chickens, but this obviously wasn’t their first rodeo. They’d sing and swing a few, then wisely let their phenomenal band take it away for a bit, allowing them to catch their breath. I say that not just because of their vintage ages; I’ve seen young performers rendered short of breath because — altitude

I hopped on board the Manhattan Transfer bandwagon somewhere in the early ’80s. In fact, most of my early MT collection consists of cassette tapes and vinyl! 

My introduction to Manhattan Transfer was the Sheridan High School swing choir’s (hi, former Spectrum members!) fantastic rendition of “Boy from New York City.” I wasn’t a member of Spectrum; however, several of my vocally blessed friends were. This was one of my favorite Spectrum tunes!

I love Manhattan Transfer because I love Vocal Jazz. I love listening to these talented folks harmonize, scat and blend seemingly impossible notes and rhythms that somehow create a sound both beautiful and exciting. 

I also love belting out these tunes right along with ’em. I love singing multiple harmonies (not all at once, of course, although that would be an amazing skill to have, wouldn’t it?) I love the memories of listening to Manhattan Transfer with my family. (It’s probably more accurate to say driving my family crazy by singing along with MT, but still.) 

I have so many favorite MT tunes — here’s a link to just a few of them on Spotify…

Don’t worry — if you don’t have Spotify but still wanna hear a song or two, here are a couple more YouTube links as well…

“Bacon Fat” (A fun version of a great tune)

 “Birdland” (A classic) 

And here’s a little bit of The Manhattan Transfer Live 2018 Mystery on 45th Anniversary Tour…

Make your own Manhattan Transfer Spotify Playlist or order The Best of Manhattan Transfer, Anthology: Down in Birdland or most of their other albums from Amazon, eBay or downtown’s Sonic Rainbow.

The CD booklet to the Manhattan Transfer’s album “Swing.” (Courtesy)