Album Remarks & Appraisals:
On September 9, legendary jazz musician Herb Alpert will re-release 24 classic albums from his illustrious catalog. The albums were remastered from the original analog tape mixes by Grammy-winning mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, who was the mastering engineer on many of the Tijuana Brass and Alpert albums. All releases, several of which have been out of print for a number of years (in Europe, some have not been available in over 30 years!), will be presented with their original artwork, making this collection must-have for the Herb Alpert fan!
Billboard (p.32) - "[A] judicious use of space makes Little Willie John's 'Fever' a different kind of sultry."
Personnel: Herb Alpert (vocals, trumpet); Lani Hall (vocals); Bill Cantos (Fender Rhodes piano, organ, keyboards, string synthesizer, background vocals); Hussain Jiffry (fretless bass, background vocals); Michael Shapiro (drums, kalimba, percussion, background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Herb Alpert.
Recording information: Sandbox Studio 2.
Photographer: Andreas Neumann.
Arrangers: Hussain Jiffry; Herb Alpert; Lani Hall; Michael Shapiro; Bill Cantos.
Trumpeter Herb Alpert and vocalist and wife Lani Hall teamed as a duo for the critically acclaimed live recording Anything Goes in 2009. I Feel You is the studio follow-up to that fine recording, and the contrasts between the two are marked. While the former album reflected new takes on the jazz canon, this one delves into rock, pop, jazz, and Brazilian tunes and interprets them with a contemporary international feel, without leaving jazz behind. Backed by their touring group -- pianist/keyboardist Bill Cantos, drummer/percussionist Michael Shapiro, and bassist Hussain Jiffry -- Alpert and Hall commence with a reading of Van Morrison's "Moondance" that is as influenced by Arabic modalism as it is the nocturnal bop-noir inherent in its melody. Led by a fretless bassline and shakers, Alpert runs through the lyric on muted trumpet. The pair begins singing together, over a minute in as the piano enters the fray and shakers are complemented by hand drums. "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" is a showcase for Hall's trademark phrasing and Alpert's jazz-wise improvisation on a Caribbean-based rhythm. It's languid, lovely, and, in its gentle way, it pops thanks to the rhythm section. Other highlights here include the Brazilian-flavored tunes: "There Will Never Be Another You" (even with Alpert's reedy vocals), "Berimbau," "The Corner (Clube' de Esquina)," and "Viola." Hall's vocals -- which are still in top form -- and Alpert's playing complement one another symbiotically (especially on the latter tune). The reading of "Here Comes the Sun" is radical. It's double-timed by Shapiro's snare and painted by Cantos' Rhodes piano with an alternate melody played by Jiffry's electric bass while Alpert and Hall hold down the original melody (trumpet and vocal) in the quiet storm. Likewise, "Blackbird" is performed as a funky modern jazz number with smooth samba overtones. The African drumming on "What Now My Love," with Alpert's clipped (and slightly reverbed) phrasing on the melody transforms the tune. The reading of "Call Me" (which he produced for Chris Montez in 1965) is reinvented here as a lithe, syncopated romantic groover. Less successful is "Fever," because its center isn't in the vocal or trumpet but in the rhythm section's interplay. That quibble aside, I Feel You is an excellent contemporary jazz recording by a veteran duo whose intuition is nearly flawless. ~ Thom Jurek