Is there a singing group in the world that can begin the evening with Bobby Troup's classic "Route 66," wend its way through a series of bop, Brazilian and doo-wop tunes, end with "Embraceable You" and still manage to grab more than a handful of standing ovations from a crowd ages 15 to 70?
The answer is yes, and the name of the group is the Manhattan Transfer, the vocal foursome whose music seems to cut through demographic breakdowns like a knife through butter. At the Universal Amphitheatre on Saturday night, where the group began a six-night stand, the Transfer managed to provide something for everyone while still maintaining the highest standards of musicality and showmanship.
A group that has run the gamut of musical styles throughout its nearly two-decade-long career, the Manhattan Transfer has of late become enamored with the music of Brazil. Not since Stan Getz made Antonio Carlos Jobim a household name in the early '60s has the music of that South American country been made so enjoyable.
Working with the phenomenal four-man percussion ensemble called Uakti, the considerable vocal and composing talents of Djavan, and its own capable sextet, the Transfer made contemporary Brazilian music completely accessible and understandable to an audience perhaps unfamiliar with such interesting and beautiful sounds.