The Manhattan Transfer – Janis Siegel | Tony Guida’s NY


>>HELLO, I’M TONY GUIDA AND THIS IS “MY NEW YORK.” THIS JOINT IS JUMPIN’ RIGHT NOW! ♪>>YEAH, THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER, THE LEGENDARY JAZZ VOCAL GROUP THAT IGNITED NEW YORK’S CABARET SCENE 45 YEARS AGO AND BURNS JUST AS BRIGHTLY TODAY. A KEY REASON WHY IS JANIS SIEGEL WHO CAME OUT OF BROOKLYN’S JAMES MADISON HIGH SCHOOL WANTING TO BE A NURSE BUT DECIDED SHE LIKED SINGING BETTER. AREN’T WE LUCKY? MEET JANIS SIEGEL NEXT. ♪ THEME MUSIC] ♪>>JANIS SIEGEL, SO NICE TO SEE YOU UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITHOUT A STAGE SEPARATING US. YOU ARE MARVELOUS.>>THANK YOU SO MUCH, TONY.>>THAT CLIP WE PLAYED IS BIRDLAND, WE’LL PLAY A LONGER ONE. I BELIEVE YOU DO THE VOCAL ARRANGEMENT.>>IT IS.>>IS THAT THE ONE THAT YOU WON A GRAMMY FOR?>>IT WAS HERE IN RADIO CITY MUSICAL.>>WHEN WAS THAT?>>IT WAS IN 1980.>>YOUR TALENT HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED IN MANY WAYS. LET’S GO BACK TO BROOKLYN.>>YES.>>WHY DID YOU LOVE MUSIC AND HOW DID YOU FIND MUSIC WHEN YOU WERE A KID IN BROOKLYN?>>I DIDN’T COME FROM A MUSICAL FAMILY. MY FATHER LIKED TO SING AND HIS IDOL WAS BING CROSBY. HE WOULD ALWAYS SING IN THE CAR.>>I DON’T KNOW THAT SONG.>>WHEN I GET IN THE CAR WITH HIM HE’D START SINGING THE OLD SONGS AND I WOULD SING WITH HIM AND HARMONIZE, EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS.>>YOU DO NOW.>>NOW I DO. THAT WAS ABOUT IT. I WAS IN CHORUS IN GRADE SCHOOL. BUT THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED WHEN I GOT A GUITAR AS A GIFT.>>HOW OLD WERE YOU?>>I WAS 12. FOLK MUSIC WAS BIG AND YOU COULD DO A LOT WITH THREE CHORDS. TWO OF MY CLOSE GIRLFRIENDS BEGGED THEIR PARENTS TO BUY THEM A GUITAR. GUITAR WAS AN INEXPENSIVE THING. WE TAUGHT OURSELVES TO PLAY AND WE STARTED A GROUP.>>I SO LOVE MUSIC AND WISH I COULD PLAY. I AM PROBABLY JUST NOT DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO TAKE THE LESSONS. WHEN PEOPLE LIKE YOU SAY, I TAUGHT MYSELF — HOW IS THAT?>>I AM LEFT-HANDED, SO I PICKED UP THE GUITAR LIKE THIS, AND I LEARNED TO PLAY A WHOLE SONG BACKWARDS UNTIL I NOTICED THE GUY IN THE BOOK WAS HOLDING IT THE OTHER WAY, SO I CHANGED.>>REALLY? THAT HAD TO BE HARD.>>IT WAS JUST SOMETHING THAT WAS AN ADJUNCT TO MY LIFE AS A “NORMAL” TEENAGE GIRL.>>SO YOU AND YOUR GIRLFRIENDS FORMED A GROUP CALLED WHAT?>>THE YOUNG GENERATION. WE RECORDED AND DID GIGS.>>YOU MADE RECORDS?>>SINGLES.>>45s STILL AROUND THEN?>>YES. THIS IS LIKE 1965 OR 1966.>>WHAT WAS THE NAME OF YOUR BIGGEST HIT?>>THE HIDEAWAY ON REDBIRD RECORDS WHICH WAS AN ICONIC LABEL. OUR PRODUCER WAS A GUY NAMED RICHARD PERRY, WHO WAS A VERY WELL-KNOWN AND WELL-RESPECTED RECORD PRODUCER. HE PRODUCED TRANSFERS’ SECOND RECORD AND FOR BARBRA STREISAND AND DIANA ROSS AND LEO SAYER, AND THE POINTER SISTERS.>>AT 12 OR 13, YOU ARE GETTING AHEAD IN THE WORLD.>>I AM GROOVING.>>AND HIGH SCHOOL IS –>>JAMES MADISON HIGH SCHOOL.>>SCHOOL WAS TAKING A SECOND?>>NO. OUR PARENTS WERE NOT IN FAVOR OF US GOING TO “PROFESSIONAL” SCHOOL OR LEAVING SCHOOL ARE GOING INTO SHOW BUSINESS.>>WHAT DID THEY THINK ABOUT IT?>>THEY THOUGHT IT WAS A NICE HOBBY. I WANTED TO GO INTO MEDICINE. ONE OF THE GIRLS BECAME A LAWYER AND THE OTHER GIRL WENT INTO TECHNOLOGY. WE WERE NOT ENCOURAGED TO BE MUSICIANS.>>HOW DOES ONE OF THE LEAD SINGERS OF THE YOUNG GENERATION –>>I WAS NOT THE LEAD SINGER.>>NO, YOU WEREN’T — BUT YOU WERE IN THE GROUP AND MAKING RECORDS AND GETTING GIGS. HOW DOES ONE GO FROM THAT TO BECOMING AN INTEGRAL PART AND ONE OF THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS OF THE MANHATTAN TRANSFERS?>>I WENT TO COLLEGE WITH A NURSING SCHOLARSHIP. I WAS IN BUFFALO. I WAS STILL FLYING BACK TO THE CITY ALMOST EVERY WEEKEND TO DO SESSIONS TO SING IN THE STUDIO WHICH IS MY REAL LOVE. I LOVE BEING IN THE STUDIO. TO ME, THAT IS THE ART FORM THAT I LOVE.>>WHY? WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT?>>BECAUSE THE FOCUS IS ENTIRELY ON THE MUSIC. THERE IS NO DRESSING UP OR MAKE UP OR DANCING. THERE IS NO GIVING OF THE ENERGY TO THE AUDIENCE. THAT IS A WHOLE ANOTHER –>>YOU ARE ON STAGE AND YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH THE AUDIENCE.>>I LIKE THE ABILITY TO GET INTO THE NUANCES OF THE MUSIC AND THE FINE POINTS OF THE MUSIC AND YOU DO THAT IN THE STUDIO.>>I HAVE A GREAT REVERENCE FOR WORDS WRITTEN AND I WOULD IMAGINE YOU HAVE A REVERENCE FOR LYRICS.>>YES.>>THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT IN THE STUDIO, YOU CAN FOCUS ON THE LYRICS.>>I CAN BLOCK OUT EVERYTHING BUT THE MUSICIANS I AM COMMUNICATING WITH. THE FOCUS IS ENTIRELY ON THAT PERFORMANCE. AND THE ENERGY IS JUST VERY INTENSE AMONG US.>>I THINK YOU WILL GET IT — THE AUDIENCE — FROM THIS CLIP. YOU DON’T GET LYRICS THAT ARE MUCH BETTER THAN THOSE WRITTEN BY JOHNNY MERCER.>>HE WAS ASTOUNDING. IF YOU COULD RATTLE OFF FIVE SONGS HE HAS WRITTEN, THEY ARE ALL MASTERPIECES.>>IF YOU LOOK UP JOHNNY MERCER, YOU WILL BE STUNNED WHAT IT LISTS.>>SOME YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HE WROTE.>>HE WROTE THEM ALL AND HE WROTE A HAUNTING, MAGNIFICENT THING CALLED “MIDNIGHT SUN.” AND THIS IS JANIS GIVING IT HER ALL IN THE STUDIO.>>♪ YOUR LIPS WERE LIKE A RED AND RUBY CHALLIS WARMER THAN THE SUMMER NIGHTS THE CLOUDS WERE LIKE AN ALABASTER PALACE RISING TO A SNOWY HEIGHT EACH STAR ITS OWN AURORA BOREALIS SUDDENLY YOU HELD ME TIGHT I COULD SEE THE MIDNIGHT SUN ♪>>WOW. I CAN SEE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. IT IS SO POWERFUL. THE FOCUS ON THE WORDS. AND JOHNNY MERCER, WHERE DOES HE COME UP WITH RED AND RUBY CHALLIS, ALABASTER PALACE, AND AURORA BOREALIS?>>THE MOST GORGEOUS TRIFECTA RHYME IN POPULAR MUSIC, I THINK. I CAN’T EXPLAIN THE SILVER RAIN THAT FOUND ME.>>YOU ARE MAKING THE POINT THAT THERE IS A COMPASSION FOR THEATER AND FILM.>>THERE IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF ACTING YOU HAVE TO DO FOR EACH FORM AND EACH STYLE. THE THEATER HAS TO BE BIG. YOU HAVE TO PROJECT AND YOU ARE GIVING ENERGY OUTWARDS. IT IS A WHOLE ANOTHER EXHILARATION. THERE IS A FLOW OF ENERGY BETWEEN YOU AND THE AUDIENCE, WHEREAS IN THE STUDIO, IT IS MORE LIKE FILM. IT IS CLOSE UP AND INTIMATE.>>YOU GAVE THOSE WORDS AND THAT LYRIC EVERY NURTURING IT DESERVES AND MORE. THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. THAT WAS ON YOUR ALBUM –>>NIGHT SONGS.>>NIGHT SONGS FOUR OR FIVE YEARS AGO?>>YES.>>THAT IS WONDERFUL. BACK TO THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER, A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO YOU ARE ONE OF. THERE ARE TWO OF THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS LEFT. YOU ARE ONE OF THE ORIGINAL — IN ALL OF THESE YEARS — YOU CAME TOGETHER 47 YEARS AGO. YOU STARTED PERFORMING IN THOSE CLUBS.>>CLUBS IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. TRUDY HELLERS, RENO SWEENEY’S. MAXIS, KANSAS CITY. WE WERE IN A DOUBLE BILL WITH CHARLES MINGUS. HE WAS SAD. I THOUGHT HE SAT THERE IN HIS DRESSING ROOM UNTIL IT WAS TIME FOR HIM TO PLAY.>>HOW DO YOU KEEP IT FRESH?>>WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW?>>I WOULD, YES, THAT’S WHY I ASKED.>>THE THING IS THAT EVERY TIME YOU GET ON STAGE, IT IS A NEW AUDIENCE. IT IS DIFFERENT PEOPLE.>>YEAH.>>I HAPPEN TO REALLY LIKE ALMOST ALL THE SONGS WE DO. I REALLY DO ENJOY SINGING THEM.>>I THINK THAT COMES THROUGH. IT’S INFECTIOUS JOY.>>AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING LIKE AN OLD HIPPIE, I THINK YOU HAVE TO BE IN THE MOMENT WITH MUSIC.>>BE AN OLD HIPPIE AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING AN OLD HIPPIE. THAT IS A WONDERFUL THING TO BE. I SAID WE WOULD PLAY A LITTLE MORE OF BIRDLAND. WILL PLAY MORE OF MANHATTAN TRANSFER. LET’S HEAR MORE OF THE BIRDLAND. ♪>>I WAS ASKING HER WHO WROTE THE LYRICS.>>WE HAD DECIDED TO DO THIS SONG IN OUR EXTENSIONS OF HIM. CHERYL HAD JOINED US. WE COMMISSIONED EDDIE JEFFERSON TO WRITE THE LYRICS. WE WERE HANGING OUT WITH HIM AND RICHIE COLE A LOT. EDDIE IS ALSO A MASTER OF VOCALESE IN A DIFFERENT WAY THAN JOHN. AS IT CAME CLOSE TO RECORDING, WE FOUND OUT THE TRAGIC NEWS THAT EDDIE HAD BEEN MURDERED OUTSIDE OF BAKER’S KEYBOARD LOUNGE IN DETROIT AFTER A SHOW. SOMEONE GUNNED HIM DOWN IN AN ALLEY. HE HAD NEVER WRITTEN ANYTHING — A WORD. SO WE THOUGHT THAT THERE WAS ONLY ONE OTHER PERSON WHO SHOULD BE DOING THIS AND THAT IS JOHN HENDRICKS.>>I SHOULD CALL TO THE ATTENTION YOU MAY BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN IT BETTER. HENDRICKS DID VOCALESE.>>CREATED IT IN A WAY.>>THEY HAVE A FANTASTIC ALBUM THAT IS A FAVORITE OF MINE CALLED SING A SONG OF — THEY TAKE THE — ARRANGEMENT. EXPLAIN THIS TO AN AUDIENCE THAT MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS MUSIC AND A LYRICIST WRITES WORDS — VOCALESE IS DIFFERENT.>>VOCALESE IS A SPECIAL, SPECIFIC TYPE OF JAZZ SINGING, WHEREBY YOU LYRICIZE AN EXISTING ARRANGEMENT. THE SOLOS AND THE ENSEMBLE PORTIONS AND YOU CREATE A NEW SONG, LITERALLY.>>SO WHEN THERE IS A TRUMPET SOLO IN THE ARRANGEMENT, SOMEONE IN THE GROUP WILL SING THOSE NOTES AS A SOLO PERFORMER.>>THE IDEA IS TO SORT OF AFFECT THE TIMBRE OF THE ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT AS WELL. IT IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT PERSONAL EXPRESSION, THIS PARTICULAR ART FORM, BUT PAYING HOMAGE TO THE ORIGINAL RECORDING. WHEREAS SCAT SINGING IS YOUR IMPROVISATION COMPLETELY.>>INTERESTING POINT.>>WITH YOUR OWN LEARNING.>>I AM LEARNING. AND BY THE WAY, JANIS IS A TEACHER AND WE WILL TALK ABOUT HER NYU CLASSES. SCAT, VOCALESE — THAT SING A SONG, IF YOU ARE A FAN OF BASSY INSTRUMENTALS.>>AND WHO ISN’T?>>THEY ARE ALL THERE, BUT BEING VOICED BY — HENDRICKS, ROSS. VOCALESE IS ONE OF THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER’S RENOWNED ALBUMS. TELL US ABOUT THAT.>>THAT REALLY WAS TIM HAUSER, THE FOUNDER OF THE GROUP WHO PASSED AWAY FOUR YEARS AGO. MUCH, MUCH MISSED. HE FOUGHT TOOTH AND NAIL FOR THAT RECORD WITH THE HEAD OF ATLANTIC RECORDS, AHMET ERTEGUN. EVEN THOUGH IT BLED INTO AHMET’S PERSONAL TASTE, HE SAID NO, IT WON’T NEVER SELL AND WE NEED MORE POP HITS. TIM FOUGHT FOR IT, AND WE ENDED UP DOING IT AND IT GOT 17 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS AND A BUNCH OF OTHER GRAMMYS. CHERYL AND BOBBY MCFERRIN WON ONE. WE DID — KILLER JOE.>>KILLER JOE.>>WE DID NIGHT IN TUNISIA. WE DID VIDEOS FOR ALL OF THEM.>>I HAVE TO GET THIS. WHY DON’T I HAVE THIS ALBUM? SEND IT TO ME.>>ME AND BENNY BAILEY. WE DID THE FOUR FRESHMEN. WE DID A DOUBLE VOCAL GROUP CUT.>>WONDERFUL STUFF. WITH THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER — I THINK YOU CALLED IT THE JUNCTION, WHICH IS YOUR TAKE ON TUXEDO JUNCTION — WOULD THAT BE CONSIDERED VOCALESE?>>THE CUT ITSELF?>>THE CUT ITSELF. I HAVE A CLIP OF YOU GUYS BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO CALL IT.>>THERE IS ONE VERY INTERESTING CUT ON THERE. IT IS ONE STEP BEYOND VOCALESE. THIS WAS CHERYL’S IDEA. IT’S “CANTALOUPE ISLAND,” HERBIE HANCOCK CLASSIC GROOVE JAZZ PIECE, AND IN 1993, A GROUP CALLED “US3,” FROM BRITAIN, DID A RAP TO THOSE CHANGES, AND THEY CALLED IT “CANTALOOP FLIP FANTASIA,” AND IT WAS AN AWESOME RECORD. CHERYL’S IDEA WAS TO TAKE THE RAP AND HARMONIZE IT. SO WE SING THE RAP.>>I DON’T KNOW IF WE HAVE IT IN THIS CUT BUT LET’S LISTEN TO THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER. IT IS ALWAYS FUN. ♪>>OK, THAT IS THE SPECIAL WHICH IS AS THE DJ SAY, A BONUS TRACK. NOT THE ONE I WANTED. I WANTED THE JUNCTION. ♪>>THAT IS TUXEDO JUNCTION AS JANIS CORRECTS ME.>>IT IS KIND OF VOCALESE. IT WAS ON OUR FIRST RECORD.>>WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITES IN THE REPERTOIRE? ARE YOU TIRED OF THEM?>>NO, IT IS LIKE ASKING FAVORITE CHILDREN.>>THAT IS A STUPID QUESTION. DON’T ANSWER IT. YOU ARE DOING SO MUCH MORE THAN WHAT WE SEE HERE. YOU TEACH AT NYU. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN GROUP. YOU ARE TEACHING MUSICAL THEATER. HOW DID YOU GET THE TIME TO BE HERE?>>HOW DOES SHE DO IT?>>HOW DOES SHE DO IT? WHAT DO YOU TEACH AT NYU AND TO WHOM?>>I RUN AN ENSEMBLE WITH MY DEAR FRIEND AND MUSIC PARTNER LAUREN KINHAN, WHO IS THE ALTO FROM THE NEW YORK VOICES. WE ALSO RUN A MONTHLY JAZZ VOCAL SALON AT A BAR CALLED VOCAL MANIA. OUT OF THAT HAS GROWN MANY PROJECTS THAT WE DO TOGETHER, INCLUDING CONCERTS. THEN WE WERE ASKED TO RUN AN ENSEMBLE AT NYU WITH A NEW VOCAL DEPARTMENT FOR CONTEMPORARY MUSIC AND JAZZ. WE STARTED LAST YEAR AND ONLY HAD FOUR PEOPLE. IT WAS VERY SMALL. WE KIND OF GREW. THIS YEAR WE HAVE EIGHT WONDERFUL STUDENTS.>>THESE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE WHOSE INTEREST IS WHAT?>>THEY’RE NOT NECESSARILY IN THE JAZZ PROGRAM. MOST OF THEM ARE INTO MUSICAL THEATER AND WANT TO EXPAND, WHICH IS VERY ADMIRABLE. SO, THEY HAVE MORE STYLISTIC CHOICES. BECAUSE THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MUSICAL THEATER SINGING AND JAZZ SINGING. IT’S A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE, DIFFERENT STYLE. WE ALSO DO HARMONY SINGING IN OUR ENSEMBLE. I HAVE ACCESS TO A LOT OF CHARTS FROM THE TRANSFER AND LAUREN HAS LOTS OF ACCESS TO HER GROUP’S CHARTS AS WELL.>>TELL US ABOUT THE REQUINTE TRIO PROJECT.>>IT MEANS ELEGANT IN PORTUGUESE. IT’S A BRAZILIAN/JAZZ FUSION TRIO THAT I HAVE WITH JOHN DI MARTINO, A WONDERFUL PIANIST AND ARRANGER AND NANNY ASSIS, A WONDERFUL SINGER AND A PERCUSSIONIST.>>DO YOU DO GIGS OR RECORD?>>YES, WE DO, BOTH. WE HAVE A RECORD CALLED, “HONEY & AIR.” WE’RE GOING TO BE AT DROM IN JUNE 29.>>AND THE NAME OF THE BAND?>>REQUINTE. R IS PRONOUNCED LIKE H.>>I DIDN’T KNOW THAT. SORRY, MY PORTUGUESE IS VERY POOR. LOOK FOR IT FOLKS.>>JUNE 29.>>THERE IS SO MUCH ELSE GOING ON. YOU’RE IN THE STUDIO, PRODUCING.>>NOT LATELY BUT IT’S SOMETHING I LOVE. I LOVE PRODUCING OTHER SINGERS. I’VE STARTED DOING IT — BECAUSE, I’VE HELPED WITH THE TRANSFER’S PRODUCTION, AN CO-PRODUCED OUR THIRD RECORD AND I ALWAYS HAD MY FEET A LITTLE BIT WET IN IT BUT NEVER DID ANYTHING BY MYSELF. I’VE STARTED DOING MY OWN RECORDS. I FOUND THAT I REALLY LIKE THE ORGANIZATIONAL PART A LOT. I REALLY ENJOY WORKING WITH OTHER SINGERS IN THE STUDIO.>>AREN’T THEY LUCKY? DO YOU GET TIRED OF THE ROAD? ALL THESE YEARS — I LOOKED AT THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER’S WEBSITE AND YOU LOOK AT DATES — YOU’RE EVERYWHERE.>>TRAVELING IS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT. IT USED TO BE WHERE YOU COULD SHOW UP AT THE AIRPORT HALF HOUR BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT. THE ROAD MANAGER WILL HAVE CHECKED YOU IN, CHECKED YOUR BAGS IN, THEY HAND YOU YOUR BOARDING PASS AND YOU GO WALTZING OFF TO THE PLANE. YOU COULD BRING YOUR OWN WATER AND –>>THOSE DAYS BEFORE THEY CONFISCATED EVERYTHING.>>NOW YOU SPEND SO MUCH TIME AT THE AIRPORT JUST HANGING AROUND. IT’S ENERGY DRAINING. EVERYTHING HAS DETERIORATED.>>I THINK THE TRANSFER NEEDS ITS OWN PRIVATE JET. THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER IS A DELIGHT. YOU ARE A DELIGHT. I AM SO HAPPY TO MEET YOU, TALK WITH YOU, SPEND TIME WITH YOU.>>IT’S LOVELY TO MEET YOU, TONY.>>I’M COMING TO SEE YOU GUYS.>>I’M GOING TO BE AT MEZZROW, APRIL 17 WITH AN INSANELY GREAT BRAZILIAN GUITARIST, DIEGO FIGUEIREDO AND, KEN PEPLOWSKI. AND THERE IS VOCAL MANIA IN APRIL 24. WE FEATURE NELLIE McKAY THIS MONTH. SHE IS AWESOME. THEN, THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER WILL BE AT THE BLUE NOTE. APRIL 25 TO 28. I NEVER HAVE TO GO OUT OF MY NEIGHBORHOOD TO WORK.>>IT’S A PERFECT ARRANGEMENT. JANIS SIEGEL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING. WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

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