Riviera Maya Jazz Festival: Day Three, November 27, 2010
Saturday night's headliners The Manhattan TransferTim Hauser, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel and Cheryl Bentynewon the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Grammy Award for Brasil (Atlantic, 1987), a thematic piece which featured two tunes written by Thursday night's Riviera Maya Festival headliner Ivan Lins. Manhattan Transfer performed several tunes from its Chick Corea Songbook (Four Quarters, 2009), including an opening hip-hop bounce through "Spain" and majestic flight through "500 Miles High," in a set filled with vocal and instrumental classics from the American jazz and pop songbooks.
"There are a few challenges to doing the music of Chick Corea live," Siegel said prior to their performance. "The music is very complex harmonicallyand rhythmically, as we found outand it's very challenging to duplicate that every night. It's the kind of challenge we love, though."
Smooth, almost creamy, harmonies in "Route 66" opened up the swing section of Manhattan Transfer's show. The quartet's vocal take on Count Basie's "Steadier Ground" featured the accompanists' boogie piano and early rock, Bill Haley guitar sound; its Grammy-winning vocalese version of Freddie Green's "Corner Pocket" (for the Basie band) was as jazzy as "Ground" was bluesy. "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" rendered Manhattan Transfer's adoring homage to Ella Fitzgerald, and Siegel sang Louis Armstrong's trumpet solos in "Stompin' at Mahogany Hall." After a luscious, dreamy version of The Rascals' "Groovin,'" hits such as "Boy from New York City" and "Birdland" poured out like single-malt scotch from a crystal tumbler.
Another highlight (if not surprise) of Manhattan Transfer's headline set was its performance of lyrics that Jon Hendricks wrote for "Tutu," the song that Marcus Miller wrote as the title track for Miles Davis' 1986 Warner Bros. album that honored the South African bishop.
Thanks to the Riviera Maya, Mahekal Beach Resort, Mamita's Beach Club, and Turner PR, for their assistance with this article.
All Photos: Chris M. Slawecki