Pop trumpet icon Herb Alpert returned to regular activity after an extended hiatus with 2009's Anything Goes. Since then, he has averaged an album a year, even picking up his eighth Grammy award for 2013's Steppin' Out and a Grammy nomination for 2016's Human Nature. 2019's warmly produced Over the Rainbow keeps this latter-career streak moving as Alpert offers another set of beloved pop standards reworked in his distinctive contemporary style. Once again joining Alpert is Grammy-winning producer Jochem van der Saag, who previously helmed the trumpeter's 2017 album, Music, Vol. 1, and 2018 effort Music, Vol. 3: Herb Alpert Reimagines the Tijuana Brass. As with those productions, Over the Rainbow finds Alpert putting his bright instrumental stamp on some of his favorite songs. Here, we get a dusky, flamenco-tinged interpretation of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," a sultry rendition of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy," and a jaunty, reggae-pop reinvention of the Willie Nelson classic "Always on My Mind." Elsewhere, there is a moody, synth-backed version of Eden Abaz's "Nature Boy" and a Brazilian carnival-meets-Mexican fiesta take on "South of the Border." Particularly successful is his Latin reading of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," featuring warm vocals by Hussain Jiffry and Alpert's wife Lani Hall. Also pleasing is Alpert's burnished take on the title track standard, played here with lyrical simplicity following Michael Shapiro's sung verse. We also get one original in the infectious album-opener "Skinny Dip," a buoyant Latin anthem that, as with much of Over the Rainbow, evokes the feel-good, cross-border mood music of his classic work.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar