In my humbleness, a new project from Herb Alpert is more than just another album to his esteemed credit. It’s another defining chapter in the career of the legendary trumpeter, 8-time Grammy winner and founder of A&M Records. And 65 years after his initial breakthrough and introduction to the music world, let me introduce you to the latest chapter, titled Sunny Side Of The Street.
Father time has no bearing on the Tijuana Brass legend who remains active in both recording, touring, and of course philanthropy. Sunny Side Of The Street uniquely offers a collection of 11 songs, 6 of which are originals written with longtime collaborators, Jeff Lorber, Bill Cantos, longtime wife Lani Hall, and John Gilutin. Prior to the full release of the album, Alpert offered a preview of the project with the release of the Gilutin co-penned “Here She Comes”, that offers funky arrangement of trumpet, guitar and piano on one of several tracks reminiscent of the Tijuana Brass era. The even cooler contemporary jazz groove, “Tickle Time” with Lorber, is an amazing work of musical art that ventures into the more mainstream sound but is equally as full of feel-good rhythm. Alpert and Lorber lean back into a more traditional jazz vibe on “Sneaky Pete”, where Lorber’s organ stylings lend to a retro sound with a slight ‘beatnik’ nuance.
The iconic trumpeter has never been shy to offer his interpretations of songbook classics and Sunny Side Of The Street is no exception. Alpert performs a fabulous rendition of South African singer-writer/political activist Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata”, where Tijuana brass melds with Afro-groove for this fine cover. Timeless favourites like “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” and “Time After Time” get a gentle and classy Alpert treatment, and I was very fond of the rendition of “Going Out Of My Head”, popularized by Little Anthony & The Imperials. While essentially an instrumental version, there is some minimal vocal chorus, although uncredited on the album.
With his 88th birthday looming at the end of March, the legend will be rolling out his long awaited and multi-postponed Canadian tour that no doubt will be performed in front of packed audiences in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec starting April 4th. Get a ticket, while there is still one to be had.
Reviewed by Stu Berketo