1961 saw the release of the landmark LP First Time! The Count Meets the Duke, a historic pairing of the Count Basie Orchestra with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Twenty-four years later, when the Manhattan Transfer was recording their Vocalese album, they decided to perform a vocalese rendition of “To You” from this great Basie/Ellington recording. What better way to honor the spirit of the original album than to pair themselves with another legendary jazz vocal quartet, the Four Freshmen?
This video features the Transfer with one of the last incarnations of the original Four Freshmen (shortly after this, Bob Flanigan, the cornerstone of the Freshmen’s characteristic sound for so many years, retired from the group). Quentin “Butter” Jackson’s trombone solo from the original Basie/Ellington recording is realized here by Alan Paul, who successfully imitates a trombone by singing with a much more covered tone production than he usually does.