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Farewell: Tim Hauser


Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer
Manhattan Transfer (Tim Hauser, top right)

True friendship is a rare harmony. As Timothy DuPron Hauser’s friend, musical partner and collaborator for 42 years, I will say exactly the same thing that I said at his wedding, where he joined his beloved Barb. There are maybe a handful of people in one’s life who really make a difference, who set you off in a new direction, who change the very particles of your being. For me, Tim was one of these people.

Tim Hauser changed my life completely, when he suggested we set off on this musical adventure together in 1972. He opened me up to the beautiful music of the ’30s and ’40s, to the soulfulness of doo-wop singing, and to the worlds of Joseph Schillinger, political economist Henry George and Edgar Varèse. Along with his sister Fayette, he turned me on to Art Deco, vintage clothing and world-class performance art.

Together we explored ancient Mayan ruins, castles in Spain and jazz clubs in Moscow, as well as our interior worlds. In the early days, Tim and I sat around for hours listening to records, savoring the deliciousness of his homemade Eggs Benedict and pooling our money for some Greenwich Village souvlaki. We shared a love of folk music, tennis, bluegrass, Slim Gaillard, R. Crumb and bebop.

Together, in harmony with our partners Alan Paul, Laurel Massé and then Cheryl Bentyne, we gave form and reality to Tim’s visions and made them work. His boundless creative generosity was one defining characteristic that set him apart from other people I knew. One story comes to mind that clearly illustrates Tim’s beautiful and expansive heart. In 1981 the Manhattan Transfer made its first trip to the Philippines. We turned on the TV when we arrived at our hotel, and to our complete amazement we saw that a popular noontime show was sponsoring a contest for Manhattan Transfer “sound-alikes.”

A young man, an aspiring musician named Noel Espenida, heard the news, arranged some vocals in TMT style and joined the competition with his church choir. We were asked to be present for the final judging. Noel’s choir won both second and third place. After the show, Tim approached Noel, congratulated him and invited him to our final show at the Folk Arts Theater. Noel brought his whole choir, and after the show Tim again singled him out and spoke to Noel at length about his dream of studying music. For Noel, to study music was only a crazy dream due to the financial constraints of his family. Tim gave Noel one of his souvenir L. Dorado Caddy T-shirts and asked for his complete name and address.

Little did Noel suspect that Tim had a plan. A month later, Noel received a letter from Tim offering him a scholarship to study music, which Noel did, and he is currently a successful full-time music director and arranger in the Philippines. This is because someone saw his beautiful potential and gave him the opportunity. This is because Tim opened the door to make his dreams real.

Tim taught me how to dream-far-reaching and impossible dreams, dreams gilded with enthusiasm-and certainty that set me on my course. I was not a dreamer when I met him; I was a worker. And so ours was a true creative partnership, where one person could not do what the other could. In fact, all I could do was stand back in awe and try to hang on by doing the day-to-day work that needed to be done. I didn’t grasp then that dreams are the seeds of reality. But I do now, all thanks to him. Dreams are truly the ability to project oneself through time.

As his friend I’ll miss his many enthusiasms, and I’ll miss traveling around the world with him, discovering new places and new experiences. As his musical partner I’ll miss his unique point of view, and will always admire his producing chops, especially on projects such as our Vocalese and Brasil albums. His A&R suggestions for TMT were always on the mark (“Operator,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” “Corner Pocket” and “Tuxedo Junction” were a few of his ideas) and his baritone/tenor voice graced songs like Tom Waits’ “Foreign Affair,” “Zindy Lou,” Djavan’s “Soul Food to Go” and certainly “Java Jive.”

He was thrilled to know the effect that the Manhattan Transfer has had on so many aspiring vocal-jazz students and on programs in universities. This was truly his dream: to make everyone feel the joy that he felt while listening to and singing this music. I loved him deeply, feel his missing part in every song, and will miss him now and always.

Originally Published