Herb Alpert and Lani Hall released their second jazz album a few weeks ago, entitled "I Feel You".
Their first ("Anything Goes") was an excellent collection of mostly older standards, recorded live at a number of venues with a small and very talented combo.
"I Feel You" is a mix of some older and some more contemporary standards, again recorded with the same group of musicians, but this time in the studio. While this results in perhaps a more polished album, it loses some of the spontaneity of the live performances. The album varies more in style and experimentation though, perhaps because they had more time to explore different musical ideas, rather than being locked into a set list night after night. The end result, while certainly very enjoyable and musically interesting, lacks some of the cohesiveness of the previous live album.
Speaking of the music, Herb is in fine form again, as is Lani. She's sings in phonetic Portuguese again on a couple of tracks, and still has a remarkable voice, but there was no English translation of the lyrics included in the liner notes. The band is first-rate, but seem to be playing more of a background role than being as front-and-center as they were in the live performances. As for Herb - he simply doesn't seem to age. Some of his playing (most notably "There Will Never Be Another You") could have almost come right out of The Tijuana Brass era.
Speaking of The Tijuana Brass, Herb revisits some of his old stomping ground with a nice update of "What Now My Love", as well as "A Taste Of Honey" (which is an iTunes-only bonus track). It's nice to hear some of those old familiar strains brought up to date, and he does a great job of retaining the familiarity of the songs without simply treading over old ground. (This is something Herb has done at other times over the years.)
There are some really nice moments in "I Feel You" (notably the title track written by pianist Bill Cantos), and some that are less successful. Still it's great to have Herb and Lani still producing new music, pushing in new directions, and still touring (I really need to try and get out to see them this year). I'm a little irked at the iTunes bonus track nonsense. When I pay for a CD - I should be getting the whole album. I don't see bonus tracks as a "reward" for those buying from iTunes, I take it as punishment from the record companies who obviously couldn't care less about the customers who are paying to buy music in the format of their choice. Small wonder the music industry is collapsing.
Nonetheless, "I Feel You" gets a 7.5/10
Cast Your Fate To The Wind
There Will Never Be Another You
Viola (Viola Fora De Moda)
What Now My Love
Here Comes The Sun
Club Esquina (Clube De Esquina)
I Feel You
'Til There Was You
A Taste of Honey (iTunes-only bonus extortion track)