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Spirit of St. Louis
     

The Spirit of St. Louis

5.0 1
by The Manhattan Transfer
 
Manhattan Transfer has paid tribute to Louis Armstrong in as lovingly radical a way as this "centennial" year might bring. Instead of trying to approximate Pop's swing and style, the acclaimed vocal quartet works with unexpected arrangements intended to shake things up rather than placate. Zydeco accordion, blues slide guitar, studio-altered percussion, tape loops,

Overview

Manhattan Transfer has paid tribute to Louis Armstrong in as lovingly radical a way as this "centennial" year might bring. Instead of trying to approximate Pop's swing and style, the acclaimed vocal quartet works with unexpected arrangements intended to shake things up rather than placate. Zydeco accordion, blues slide guitar, studio-altered percussion, tape loops, pedal steel guitar and other atypical touches -- for an Armstrong tribute, that is -- add brilliantly to the unique quality of the recording. But what else would you expect from a project produced by the now-legendary studio auteur Craig Street, the man who brought Cassandra Wilson to the charts? Not that longtime Manahttan Transfer fans should worry; there's still plenty of lush trademark harmonies, and lovely solo vocals from the group. But the Transfer sound distinctly revitalized, digging deep into thoroughly modern takes on revered material. Here's a smart project, filled with surprises, pulled off with remarkable aplomb.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard S. Ginell
You always look for new things from the Manhattan Transfer, and after a couple of releases that weren't too innovative, followed by a three-year gap, suddenly they come out with a really peculiar-sounding, refreshingly weird observance of the Louis Armstrong centennial. It sounds as if they had spent those three years racking their brains trying to come up with a totally different studio sound that's neither nostalgic nor modern. Which is exactly what they've done; the sound is compressed to evoke that of an ancient 78 rpm disc but not any 78 you'll ever encounter, whether by Louis or anyone. You hear all kinds of odd things bumping around in the back like loose parts in a machine, strange electronic treatments of the voices, an accordion wailing through many of the tracks, Delta blues guitar, Cajun, and rock & roll, and even more modern styles (with members of k.d. lang's band and Los Lobos's Steve Berlin joining in). The A&R guys probably would have killed to make this CD an exercise in reverent nostalgia -- "Do You Know What It Means to Miss Orleans" is the closest thing to it -- but a track like "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" with its touch of hip-hop in the rhythm, electronically limited guitar, and strings doesn't sound nostalgic in the least. "Gone Fishin'" is an affectionate, extended Alan Paul/Tim Hauser takeoff on the easygoing rapport between Armstrong and Bing Crosby on their duet version, wisely leaving the funny topical references to the original. "Nothing Could Be Hotter Than That" has some trademark Cheryl Bentyne high-wire vocalese. And to end the album, a normally warm and cozy tune like "When You Wish Upon a Star" opens and closes with a spacy electronic arrangement, with harmonies that thankfully undercut the sweetness, transforming the tune. Louis Armstrong wouldn't have recognized this "tribute," but his younger self probably would have hailed the Transfer's renewed moxie and experimental spirit.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/10/2000
Label:
Warner Bros Mod Afw
UPC:
0075678339424
catalogNumber:
83394
Rank:
77470

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Manhattan Transfer   Primary Artist
Jon Hassell   Trumpet
Plas Johnson   Saxophone
Janis Siegel   Vocals
David Torn   Guitar,Loops
Steve Berlin   Saxophone
Teddy Borowiecki   Organ,Accordion,Pump Organ
Chris Bruce   Guitar
David Campbell   Viola
Jon Clarke   Clarinet,Saxophone,Woodwind
Larry Corbett   Cello
Joel Derouin   Violin
Tim Hauser   Vocals
Greg Leisz   Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar
Alan Paul   Vocals
David Piltch   Bass
John Rotella   Clarinet
Patrick Warren   chamberlain,Marxophone
Rachel Purkin   Violin
Abe Laboriel   Drums,Loops
Michele Richards   Violin

Technical Credits

Janis Siegel   Vocal Arrangements
David Torn   Orchestration
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Corey Allen   Vocal Arrangements
Teddy Borowiecki   Orchestration
Chris Bruce   Arranger
David Campbell   Orchestration,Vocal Arrangements
Eddie DeLange   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Jimmie Haskell   Arranger
Bert Kalmar   Composer
Charles F. Kenny   Composer
Greg Leisz   Arranger
Alan Paul   Vocal Arrangements
David Piltch   Orchestration
Emil Richards   Vibe Master
Harry Ruby   Composer
Craig Street   Producer
Roger Treece   Arranger,Vocal Arrangements
Benjamin Niles   Art Direction
S. "Husky" Hoskulds   Engineer
Louis Alter   Composer
Chris Pyle   Illustrations
Richard Barron   Engineer
Abe Laboriel   Orchestration
Nick Kenny   Composer
Lil Hardin Armstrong   Composer

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Spirit of St. Louis 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A giant artistic leap for the premier vocal group of the modern recording era. Raw and vital and emotional -- there's nothing slick here, and it works beautifully. They have never sounded better -- collectively or individually. Easily their best record since ''Vocalese'' and maybe their best album ever.