The Manhattan Transfer
It’s been nearly forty years since Tim Hauser, a former Madison Avenue marketing executive, paid his bills by driving a New York City cab while aspiring to form a harmony vocal quartet sui generis that could authentically embrace varied musical styles, and still create something wholly unique in the field of American popular song.
Hauser had been in doo-wop groups, folk groups, and even in a short-lived quintet named The Manhattan Transfer, but as the sounds of jazz, R&B, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, salsa and swing poured out of brownstones, Hauser now dreamt of four-part harmonies without limits.
In the Fall of 1972, Hauser’s taxi fare was an aspiring young singer named Laurel Massé, who was familiar with the sole album by Hauser’s earlier Manhattan Transfer combo, and was looking to form a group. A few weeks later, another of Hauser’s fares invited him to a party where he met Brooklyn native Janis Siegel; although already in a group, Siegel agreed to help out on some demos and before long she was the third member of The Manhattan Transfer. As Hauser, Massé and Siegel began rehearsing, Massé’s then-boyfriend, who was drumming in a Broadway pit band, introduced Hauser and Siegel to Alan Paul, who was co-starring in the original production of Grease, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1974 the group began performing regularly throughout New York City at…
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