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Album Review

Tim Hauser likes to say that the Manhattan Transfer gets bored easily; hence the exploratory bent that has made them the most interesting vocal group in jazz (and maybe pop, too). Taking advantage of the then-cresting second Brazilian wave in North America while still going their own way musically, Brasil is the Transfer's most daring and perhaps most emotionally moving album to date, an original fusion of the Transfer's vigorous vocal blend, Brazilian harmonic warmth, the textures of American synthesized pop/jazz and the rhythms of both nations. They rely mostly upon five songs from one of Brazil's finest post-bossa nova writers, Djavan, with two more from Ivan Lins and one apiece from Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento (the Transfer has impeccable taste in Brazilian writers), while going to all kinds of folk for English lyrics. The oddly percolating "Soul Food to Go" with Dada lyrics by, of all people, the notorious Doug Fieger of the Knack, makes a fine energetic prelude to an album that also frets about Big Brother, the suppression of freedom, and the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. Clearly the Transfer had been listening hard not only to the sound but also the fury of Brazil's composers; their causes become the Transfer's as well. Djavan's lovely "Capim" has the dual advantage of having both the composer on vocals and a distinguished visitor from the first Brazilian wave, Stan Getz, blowing urbane obligatos. The last cut, "Notes from the Underground," an angry cry of solidarity with a haunting Lins tune and bumping instrumental lines from the Brazilian group Uakti, aches in the memory for hours. Alas, the elusive Brasil baffled many of the Transfer's fans and started a long commercial slide for the group. Yet it belongs among their greatest achievements, right alongside Extensions and Vocalese. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Brasil

Innovative, lyrical, unusual, evocative of the smoky mystery of brazil

Modern Masterpiece!

An original "grammy award" winning masterpiece. "Brazil" still holds it's own after all these years. The gem of the set is the Janis Siegel led "Aqua", haunting and beautiful. This Manhattan Transfer CD is a one of a kind musical treasure.

Biography

Formed: 1969 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Riding a wave of nostalgia in the '70s, the Manhattan Transfer resurrected jazz trends from boogie-woogie to bop to vocalese in a slick, slightly commercial setting that sometimes failed to gel with the group's close harmonies. Originally formed in 1969, the quartet recorded several albums of jazz standards as well as much material closer to R&B/pop. Still, they were easily the most popular...
Full Bio
Brasil, The Manhattan Transfer
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