Anyone who loves jazz music must know about the amazing vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. What some may not know is that the Manhattan Transfer comes from the Name of Two different groups. The first group made one album, then broke up in 1969, the other group is the one, which is the basis for this article. They began in 1972 and still sing today. The Manhattan Transfer does an exquisite job of blending jazz music, popular music and big band together.

The members of the group are: Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, Laurel Masse and Tim Hauser. Their first album entitled, The Manhattan Transfer brought them a hit single, a gospel song called "Operator". In 1971 an album was made with only one of the members, Tim Hauser. The album Jukin' was really considered to be released by a different group. This vocal group did a spectacular job performing in Europe.

The next two albums, Pastiche and Coming Out had a number of top ten hit singles. "Chanson D'Amour" went to number one in the United Kingdom in 1977, but didn't make the charts in the U.S. After that, the group released The Manhattan Transfer Live Album recorded in the United Kingdom. After that, Laurel was terribly injured in a car accident and Cheryl Bentyne took her place. The group has been the same ever since. They went on to make another hit in the U.S. with "Twilight Zone/Twilight Zone" from the album Extensions. This same album gave The Manhattan Transfer their most recognized sound. "Birdland" written by Jon Hendricks gave them their first Grammy award for the Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental. They also an award for best arrangement for voices.

The group broke their record in 1981 by winning a Grammy in a pop and jazz category that year. Jazz music was taking a new and enjoyable turn. "Boy From New York City" made it into the top ten, and won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. "Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)" was for Best Jazz Performance Duo or group. Both singles were on their fifth album Mecca for Modems.

By the time their album Bodies and Souls was released in 1983, they took a new turn in jazz music again, their songs becoming more contemporary and urban. "Mystery", "Spice of Life" were hit singles. "Mystery" is one of the best Manhattan Transfer songs. Anita Baker covered it on her Rapture album. With their next album Vocalese, they were going for complexities and were very successful. That album got not one, but 12 Grammy nominations. It was number two to Michael Jackson's Thriller album. They won for two Grammys. One for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group and Best Arrangement for Voices.

Lately, the group has released An Acapella Christmas in Japan, 2005. Last year they have released The Symphony Sessions, which is a greatest hits collection. The songs were re-done for pop orchestras and symphonies. Late last year, they released a DVD called The Christmas Concert, which was on the PBS network. The Manhattan Transfer also did an original song for a film, called "Trail of the Screaming Forehead".

The Manhattan Transfer has really changed and expanded the style of jazz music. Each of the members has appeared on other artist's albums as guest. To date they have recorded twenty-four albums, and each have done solo albums. Janis's solo career being the most popular.


The essence of the sound of Jazz music is so versatile due to the origins from which it first began. In fact, New Orleans, Louisiana is the place where Jazz first began between 1850 and 1900 by African slaves as well as the freed people of color. The first style of Jazz music was known as Dixieland.

In Africa from the Middle to Central to the West, one can hear the intricate rhythmic improvisation of the percussive instruments that is often heard with Jazz Music. These rhythms combined with the American Spirituals, Hymns, Blues, and the blue grass hillbilly musical sounds created a type of sound the originated in Jazz music. However, the music was just a peculiar sound without a particular title to call it fifteen years later in 1915. The great pianist Earl Hines born in 1903 played this type of music before the title Jazz became an official style of music. The word "Jazz" which was formerly spelled as "Jass" has it's origins as a type of American slang used to describe the sound of Jazz music.

It is the sound of Jazz music that began as an offspring from the origins that created this music. In the beginning of the century the instruments used in Jazz music were European percussion, brass and woodwind instruments primarily for the military marching or dance bands.

Moreover, these instruments were used in the funeral marches in the deeper party of the southern area and well as the northern. The essence of the origins of Jazz music finally became developed into it's own style with an original shape. In addition, origins of Jazz music expanded the style to the point where it cannot be defined as pure folk music even when some of its roots began there.

Once the education system included the study of music to train musicians in a formal setting it paved the way for many to learn the techniques to create music from the heart. The importance of the origins of Jazz music is to learn all about the sound that many have fell in love with. Jazz music represents freedom to create color and sound that can be interpreted best by the performers and composers who create this style of music. The origins of Jazz music has been a subject worth debating over when it comes down to labeling it a particular style. Duke Ellington himself explained it as "It's all music" due to the fact that the music has no particular structure or form it has to take.

Jazz music is not a simple style that can easily be defined except as free music that can easily meld into other styles of music to take it to another level. Jazz music itself is an innovation of African, Impressionist, Spiritual, Hymnal, Blues and Blue Grass hillbilly music simultaneously combined into a music masterpiece. The essence of the sound of Jazz music comes from the different musical elements from each part its origins as putting pieces of a puzzle together into one cohesive entity.