Legendary pop and jazz icon Herb Alpert continues his prolific career run with his 2016 studio album, Human Nature. The album follows up his well-received 2014 effort, In the Mood, and picks up on that album's mix of electronic pop and Latin-inflected, dance-oriented grooves. In his eighties at the time of recording, he has aged into a soulful, lyrical musician able to bridge the light pop stylings of his youth with more introspective choices. Human Nature finds him completely engaged, continuing to explore new sounds and songs. Joining Alpert here are several longtime collaborators in producer/percussionist Michael Shapiro, producer/arranger/keyboardist Eduardo Del Barrio, bassist/guitarist Hussain Jiffry, keyboardist/arranger/producer Bill Cantos, and others. As with Alpert's other albums since coming out of a ten-year hiatus in 2009, Human Nature finds the trumpeter applying his distinctively sweet-toned sound to a nicely balanced combination of beloved pop standards, unexpected covers, and originals. Sometimes, as on the title track, an inspired Brazilian Mardi Gras-infused reworking of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," Alpert goes for an inventive cross-genre angle. Other times, as on his lush, romantic reading of the Burt Bacharach/Elvis Costello-ballad "Look Up Again," he takes a more straightforward approach, framing his yearning Miles Davis-esque lines with reverb-soaked piano and shimmering orchestral strings. Alpert even draws upon his iconic Tijuana Brass double-tracked trumpet sound for a bright, electro-Latin take on the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," which also features vocals from his wife, muse, and frequent collaborator Lani Hall. Elsewhere, Alpert strikes a similarly pleasant, cross-genre stance with his originals, like the disco-salsa "Shake It" and the sophisticated, cocktail hour-ready Latin jazz of "Mystery Man." Ultimately, Human Nature is a warmly produced album by an artist who has seen and done it all, and yet still finds magic and mystery in the process.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar