In 1977 Weather Report released the song “Birdland” on their album Heavy Weather. It’s the band’s keyboardist Joe Zawinul’s composition. I know the song more from the version by The Manhattan Transfer. That’s because I went to a music festival, and in between bands, the sound person played the same set of music over and over. And one of the songs was this version of “Birdland” off their Extensions album.
The two versions of the song are actually quite similar. But the vocal harmonies on The Manhattan Transfer version — with the vocal slides — are really fantastic. And I’m not that fond of the Weather Report live version I found. So here is The Manhattan Transfer doing the song live, with lots of stage business, which I never would have expected, given the great care they show their music. It’s impressive that they can do this live. And the scatting at the end is incredible.