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article imageThe Manhattan Transfer discuss new jazz album 'The Junction' Special

By Markos Papadatos     Mar 1, 2018 in Music
The Manhattan Transfer's Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel chatted with Digital Journal about their new jazz album "The Junction," which will be released on March 30.
On the song selection process for The Junction, Bentyne said, "It’s a process: listening, re-listening, mostly it has to inspire each of us, as well as support the individuals inspiration. It cannot be forced, it has to magically flow and for me, the music has to speak to me."
Alan Paul added, "Initially the group submitted songs or song ideas to each other and we made a list of about fifty songs. We with our producer, Merv Warren broke that down to twenty five, fifteen and eventually to ten. We took into consideration the balance of the album, so that each member would be well represented as writers and soloists."
When asked about her personal favorite song on the new CD, Bentyne said, "I love every single song because each song represents us as a whole. We all participated in writing. So I will say, today 'Blues For Harry Bosch.' I heard this wild, wonderful; sax player,Grace Kelly on YouTube and her video for this piece was thrilling!"
On their future plans, Bentyne shared, "We are planning our year of touring our 45th anniversary with the new CD." "There will be a lot of international and domestic touring," Paul said.
Regarding their forthcoming PBS special The Summit on April 26, Bentyne said, "Ed Keane, our manager, as well as Take 6’s, had this idea to combine the two groups. WE have been performing this show for quite q while and had it up and ready to film. The show features the groups performing together as well as separately. We compliment each other as two very different vocal groups that between the two have 20 Grammy awards and as they are into their 30 plus years together we are in our 45th plus lots of experience singing at once."
Digital transformation of the music business
On the impact of technology in the music business, Janis Siegel said, "I think its been a double -edged sword. On one hand, some of the technology, like the ability to live-loop, the new software sequencing programs for writing, the ability to have a compact working home studio in any size space, is fantastic and helpful. On the other hand, things like overusing auto-tune, constructing vocals for non-singers with various software plug-ins to me is a down side. One could always go to the dark side with technology, in any field. In my view, people will always crave the real thing, something that moves them."
Alan Paul acknowledged that technology has made the process of recording much faster than it was with analog tape. "With broadband capabilities, it has expanded the boundaries of sound reproduction and editing. The Internet and social media has changed the way the music industry operates. It has a much wider reach internationally and it has enabled independent artist to not be dependent on the major labels to distribute their music content. It has also negatively effected how royalty rates are distributed to writers," Paul explained.
Regarding The Manhattan Transfer's use of technology in their music routine, Siegel said, "We are very old school when we rehearse. Just four voices and a piano for plunking out starting notes and parts. But on stage, occasionally we will use loops for instrumental richness and to better recreate the essential feel of a tune. We also all use in-ear monitors , which gives us the ability to control our own mix on stage."
Alan Paul continued, "As writers and music producers we use technology in recording as well as in our live performances. One of the great advancements for me is with hearing. Because I suffer from hearing loss, I am now able to control my in-ear monitors independently through my iPhone."
On the key to longevity in the jazz music business, Siegel said, "I believe the key to our longevity is three-fold. One, we never labeled ourselves as doing one style of music or another. We just considered ourselves a vocal group, specializing in four-part harmony, and were always eclectic in following our musical passions of the moment. And so, we were never disposable, because there has never been a group quite like ours. We learned how to fight constructively and three, I think you really have to love what you do, and in our case, be friends."
For The Manhattan Transfer fans, Siegel concluded about the new album, "This is our first album with Trist Curless, the newest member of our Manhattan Transfer family. The Junction is dedicated to our founder and friend, the late Tim Hauser. It is eclectic in style, with everything from electro-swing to lush Martin Denny-inspired vocals to kooky dance music.
In 1998, The Manhattan Transfer was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. To learn more about The Manhattan Transfer, check out their official website.
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