Hot on the heels of the retrospective reissue of 24 of his classic long players (see review below), trumpet doyen and record biz exec, Herb Alpert releases a brand new album, ‘Human Nature’, named for the included cover of that Michael Jackson song.
Those familiar with Alpert’s work – via that major reissue project or just as a long term fan – will know that he constantly strives to move on and develop his music, so that, for instance, 1979’s ‘Rise’ is a world away from ’62’s ‘Lonely Bull’. Consequently what Herb attempts here is to offer something different to his work in the 70s, 80s and 90s. On the concise ten tracker, he delves into dance grooves and uses more electronic instrumentation than has been his want. Sadly, I don’t think the experiment pays off. The programmed tracks (on the faster tunes, especially) seem to be working against Alpert’s distinctive trumpet sound. Hear that clash of cultures on the aforementioned ‘Human Nature’. The tune is familiar but the beat pattern is contrived and awkward. There’s the same awkwardness on what I’m guessing is meant to be the album’s big dancer. ‘Shake It’. The beats are Latin flavoured but the trumpet is just too polite for any kind of wild dancing or partying.
Things work much more satisfactorily on the slower items and of those the outstanding choice is a version of ‘Alfie’. After the harp intro, the muted trumpet simply caresses the lovely melody and familiarity doesn’t make things any less moving. There’s also one vocal verse from an uncredited (on my copy) female singer. The album’s other Bacharach cover is the lesser known ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’… a classic marriage of a Bacharach tune and Alpert’s trumpet. The other cut worth checking is another cover… Elvis Costello’s ‘Look Up Again’. Always a fan of Bacharach, the melody could have come from the maestro’s latter day song book and Alpert treats it sumptuously.
Elsewhere, Herb’s own composition, ‘Mystery Man’ is quite lovely… a gentle, Jobim kind of thing with some delightful “mystery” man piano (again my copy shows no credits!),
Herb Alpert’s ‘Human Nature’ is out now.