The Manhattan Transfer

Mecca for Moderns

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After the deserved artistic, critical and popular success of Extensions, the Manhattan Transfer went back to ace producer Jay Graydon for Mecca for Moderns, which almost matches its predecessor in its contemporary energy while drawing selectively from the past. Outstanding is the handclapping treatment of the 1965 rock tune "The Boy from New York City" (a number seven hit single) and the happily swinging vocalese of the Count Basie band's "Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)," although their version of Charlie Parker's difficult "Confirmation" isn't nearly as assured. There is also an ample dose of the inventive weirdness that invaded Extensions: the African/Caribbean "(Wanted) Dead or Alive," with its checklist of dictators, that segues right into a tongue-in-cheek secret agent spoof, "Spies in the Night"; or the ambitious, wordless composition "Kafka." No longer a mere nostalgia act, the Manhattan Transfer had not only caught up with the times, they were now slightly ahead of them as well.

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