Herb Alpert had never really embraced his inner jazzman over the course of an entire album before; the closest he came was 1992's Midnight Sun, ultimately a highly controlled cocoon of a recording. But this, at long last, is it, and it represents a string of firsts for the protean trumpeter -- his first truly straight-ahead jazz project, his first all-new album of any kind in ten years, his first complete album with his wife, singer Lani Hall (who gets co-billing), and his first released by a label which he did not co-own. The concept grew out of a series of live dates that he and Hall played in various cities, from which these tracks were assembled. Despite some apparent lightly applied overdubs, it remains an intimate small group album of mostly standards, the kind of thing one might run across at Vibrato -- Alpert's jazz club in the hills above Los Angeles. Hall appears in tandem with Alpert on nine of the 14 tracks -- with Alpert taking five for himself -- which guarantees an additional unique layer of intimacy as Alpert wraps his pithy horn lovingly around Hall's voice. Hall has kept her Portuguese in gear, doing well by Ivan Lins' "Dinorah, Dinorah" and the rapid-fire syllables of "Para-Raio." She adopts a dark, dusky tone on "That Old Black Magic," and for "Let's Face the Music And Dance," she takes on an air of desperation, focusing on the words, "there may be trouble ahead." Still in good shape in his seventies, Alpert retains the marcato bravado of the Tijuana Brass days and the more recent, terse, moody, muted tones of a Miles acolyte; in "It's Only a Paper Moon," these two personas go mano a mano rather humorously. "The Trolley Song," done at an unusually lazy, loping pace by the Tijuana Brass more than four decades before, is taken at a more traditionally quick, Latin-accented tempo here, and this is the third time around for "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face" -- now a casual vocal showcase for Alpert with a witty coda that sneaks in a horn lick from "This Guy's in Love with You." The adept backup trio of Bill Cantos on keyboards -- who comes up with a few nifty quotes himself -- Hussain Jiffry on electric bass, and Michael Shapiro on drums and Latin percussion goes down agreeably. This is a classy, welcome return to album-making for Alpert, and a good fit for Concord's adult-oriented roster.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell