Alan Paul interview in Albuquerque Journal
- Vocal Quartet Reaches Significant Milestone
by David Steinberg
Albuquerque Journal, April 1, 2012
Four decades seem to be a watershed for some of the country's most popular and
enduring musical quartets.
The Guarneri String Quartet kept the chamber ensemble going for about 45 years.
The Modern Jazz Quartet maintained its collective identity for an estimated 41
The Manhattan Transfer is celebrating 40 years of continuous singing. That's not
counting several years earlier when the Tim Hauser-founded vocal ensemble did
country and R&B.
Alan Paul recalled that when he joined The Manhattan Transfer in 1972 "it seemed
like a lot of fun, a cool idea to do four-part harmony and get dressed up in
these different clothes and just kind of gig."
Back then Paul never imagined that the group would have the equivalent stamina
of a marathon runner or the perseverance of The Rolling Stones.
"(The Transfer) just kind of took off. But how do you really know that, how life
is going to evolve. It's been quite a journey," he said.
The journey isn't over.
Paul is still with The Manhattan Transfer, which will bring its interpretations
of jazz, pop and blues to the Popejoy Hall stage Saturday, April 7.
The concert is part of its anniversary year tour has already seen the quartet
perform at a jazz festival in Indonesia and is planning a short tour of Canada,
three tours of Europe as well as concerts in Japan, China and Southeast Asia.
"I think that the touring is getting harder, to be honest," Paul said in a phone
interview from Los Angeles, "especially the long tours or the tours where we
have to travel a long distance.
"So I think we have to be more selective when we go out and how much we want to
go to out. I don't know what the answer is.... We're taking one year at a time."
He said the ability of the ensemble to perform for so long year in and year out
is the chemistry.
"The Transfer is really like a family," Paul said.
"So we've had to learn how to really appreciate this gift that we've been given
and to not let little things break apart the magic."
And as with any family, the ensemble has its own dynamic regarding creative
differences. In the quartet's case, the issues are musical -- e.g. song choices,
interpretative approaches -- but they don't take those disagreements personally.
The Popejoy concert will be a retrospective of many of the Manhattan Transfer's
hits from many albums it has recorded over the years. Among its hits have been "Java Jive," "Boy from New York City," "Birdland" and "Corner Pocket."
"I think that we've been fortunate in our career to have the opportunity to record and to be diverse in our musical styles. It's kept us on our toes and kept it interesting also," Paul said. "And it's about maturing together."
Though the Manhattan Transfer is the centerpiece of their musical lives, each one has other projects.
In Paul's case, he also performs as a soloist and produces other artists, among them singer Laura Ellis and the vocal ensemble Sounds Divine.
Paul is also producing his singer-songwriter daughter Arielle Paul. She sings pop and R&B.
"It's cool seeing a new generation and see where their influences come from," he said.