Recorded live during a brief tour last year, this is Herb's most jazz-centric album since 1992's Midnight Sun (currently out-of-print, unfortunately). There's nary a trace of the Tijuana Brass years here, and yet Herb's playing is as instantly identifiable as ever, as is Lani's singing (in case you're unfamiliar, she was the lead vocalist for Sérgio Mendes's Brasil '66).
Anything Goes is mostly a collection of standards, but they're treated in Herb and Lani's own unique style, so while certainly respectful to the originals, they aren't merely retreads of something done before. Lani sings a couple of numbers in Portuguese (sadly, no translation was included in the booklet), and there a couple of original compositions by the band's pianist - Bill Cantos. Yet despite the variety of material, the whole album has a very cohesive feel to it. The musicians are all first-rate and blend together as if they've been playing together for years. What's rather amazing is that Herb and Lani have rarely collaborated musically, and yet they mesh together effortlessly, and the result is an intimacy to the music that's really a delight to listen to. There's romance, humor, and such a strong connection between them, that there's a real sense that everyone involved is just thoroughly enjoying the music - and it's contagious. I find myself enjoying this album the more I listen to it, and at times almost feel like I'm sitting in the room with them.
Lani's voice doesn't sound like she's aged a day, and Herb's playing (at 74!) is equally timeless. Lani has a terrific voice, from handling the rapid-fire lyrics of
Herb and Lani are touring again this year, playing with the same group and performing many of the songs from this album. I missed the chance to see them in concert last time around. I won't make that mistake again.
Herb has always made the music that he wanted to make. Sometimes to the chagrin of die-hard Tijuana Brass fans who'd rather listen to "A Taste of Honey" for the six-thousandth time, than be challenged by or treated to something musically new and different. But that's their loss. I haven't been a fan of everything Herb has released, but I always look forward to his next album because I know it's never going to be the same thing he did that last time. And while I'll admit sometimes I wish he'd do more of one thing or less of another, I admire and respect his willingness to go out on a limb and create something simply because he wants to.
This is an excellent album, an excellent jazz album, and yet another re-invention of Herb Alpert as an artist. Never one to sit still or live in the past, his musical stylings have changed radically over the years from the Tijuana Brass years, to disco, funk, R&B, orchestral, latin, pop, easy listening... and yet underneath it all, has always been Alpert's first musical love - jazz. Here, he unabashedly gets to celebrate his love of jazz, his love of his wife, and the joy of working together with the both of them.
The Trolley Song
That Old Black Magic
It's Only A Paper Moon
Let's Face The Music And Dance
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
Who Are You?
I've Got You Under My Skin
Anything Goes gets a 9.5/10
(It would've gotten a 10, but apparently the Japanese release gets a bonus track that we're denied!)
Here's a promotional video for the album:
*Note: The title track is some obscure version by a guy named "Cole Porter" , rather than