Herb Alpert

North on South St.

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Ever attuned to what is happening out there in recordland, Herb Alpert tried to graft his trumpet onto the rhythms and textures of hip-hop and techno-dance music in North On South St., hoping again to crash the R&B charts. He used four young black co-producers (Greg Smith, Robert Jerald, Jimmy B and Troy Staton) and they get some festively percolating grooves going on tracks like "Passion Lady" and "Paradise 25." Clearly Alpert's early jazz leanings were beckoning more strongly, and his Miles Davis-like musings over the dance tumult actually anticipated the acid-jazz movement later in the decade, making this a historically important record. Yet there is something melancholy about Alpert's playing on this album, like a lonely figure from the past looking in on a party from an outside window on the street, genuinely wanting to join in but unable to totally connect. Still, for someone of Alpert's age (56) at the time of release, it is amazing that he was willing and able to stay in touch with the cutting edge of contemporary pop.

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