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New old music - part 4

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Nathan Strum


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


Track listing:



Cast Your Fate To The Wind

There Will Never Be Another You


Viola (Viola Fora De Moda)

Something Cool

What Now My Love

Here Comes The Sun


Club Esquina (Clube De Esquina)


I Feel You

Call Me

'Til There Was You

A Taste of Honey (iTunes-only bonus extortion track)

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I admit I did not know the name Herb Alpert until a few months ago. I did however know Rise and had been wondering for years who played it. Couldn't exactly Google it when all I had to go on was a melody.


What songs of his do you like the best? (Or if you prefer I'll look more into it for myself.)

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That's kind of a tough question, because his solo work is really diverse. He never sits still and will change styles seemingly on a whim. So it's hard to think of individual songs.


It's also kind of a tough question because so much of his work is out-of-print now. Of the 38 albums I have of his, only 14 are on iTunes, and only one of those is a solo album (Rise).


That said...


From the Tijuana Brass era (admittedly, there's a pretty massive nostalgic connection here):


South of the Border (South of the Border)

Zorba The Greek (Going Places)

A Taste of Honey (Whipped Cream and Other Delights)

Our Day Will Come (S.R.O.)

Mexican Road Race (S.R.O.)

Bean Bag (S.R.O.)

Blue Sunday (S.R.O.)

Don't Go Breaking My Heart (S.R.O.)

Flamingo (S.R.O.)

What Now My Love (What Now My Love)

The Shadow of Your Smile (What Now My Love)

A Banda (Herb Alpert's Ninth)

Gotta Lotta Livin' To Do (Sounds Like...)

Town Without Pity (Sounds Like...)

The Treasure of San Miguel (Sounds Like...)

Casino Royale (Sounds Like...)

Panama (Beat of the Brass)

Slick (Beat of the Brass)

The Sea Is My Soil (Warm)

Zazueira (Warm)

Warm (Warm)

Sandbox (Warm)

Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor (You Smile - The Song Begins)

Last Tango In Paris (You Smile - The Song Begins)

Carmine (Coney Island)

Vento Bravo (Coney Island)


... and the entire Christmas Album. :)


Most of the Tijuana Brass work is what I'd describe as "happy music". Great for listening to on long drives. After about the third album, he started breaking away from the pseudo-mariachi sound, and started integrating a lot of different influences including dixieland, pop, and well... just a little of everything. But really, he created his own musical genre. Not many people do that.


After the TJB era, he did two amazing jazz albums with Hugh Masekela (a flugelhorn player from South Africa, best known for the hit "Grazing in the Grass"), both of which are excellent, but sadly out-of-print.


It's sort-of ironic so much of his stuff is out-of-print, since he was the co-founder of A&M records, and is a multi-millionaire many times over. But I guess at the moment he's not interested in reissuing a lot of that work.


From his solo work (again, almost completely out-of-print):


Behind the Rain (Rise)

Street Life (Rise)

Aranjuez (Rise)

Interlude (for Erica) (Beyond)

Red Hot (Beyond)

Beyond (Beyond)

The Factory (Beyond)

Besame Mucho (Magic Man)

You Smile - The Song Begins (Magic Man)

Fandango (Fandango)

Route 101 (Fandango)

Garden Party (Blow Your Own Horn)

Latin Lady (Blow Your Own Horn)

Bullish (Bullish)

Struttin' On Five (Bullish)

"8" Ball (Wild Romance)

Keep Your Eye On Me (Keep Your Eye On Me)

Cat Man Do (Keep Your Eye On Me)

Fragile (Under A Spanish Moon)

Under A Spanish Moon: A Suite in Three Movements (Under A Spanish Moon)

Fun House (My Abstract Heart)

Jump Street (North On South St.)

Midnight Sun - the entire album

Second Wind (Second Wind)

TKO (Passion Dance)

Libertango (Colors)

Magic Man (Colors)


The diversity of his solo work is pretty amazing (and at times, frustrating, since just when he puts out an album you really like, he goes and changes everything. :roll: ) But his influences range from jazz to latin, hip hop to funk, and whatever else is of interest to him at the time. He never seems to worry about being commercial (he can afford not to), just in playing what he likes.


The most recent two albums are the ones he did with his wife, Lani Hall. Of those, my favorite track would be Laura (Anything Goes).


My favorite solo album (as highlighted above) of his is Midnight Sun, which is laid-back, almost introspective jazz at its best. I never tire of listening to that. Second would probably be Fandango, which is an upbeat, heavily latin-influenced album. After that, probably Rise.


From the TJB era, it would be Sounds Like..., Warm, S.R.O and You Smile - The Song Begins. (Well, and the Christmas Album - but only for one month out of the year. ;) )


There's also a remixed version of the album Whipped Cream and Other Delights (with some new solo overdubs by Herb). I'm not into that whole scratchy-sampled filtered-noise thumpy-beat DJ music scene, but Herb does some nice playing over it.


Sorry you asked now? ;)

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