Steppin' Out - A review

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martin

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As I am getting rid of the last jet lag I thought would share some thoughts on Herb's new album. I have posted a photo of the front cover on my facebook page. I hope this link works:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...1106958776962.442799.599516961&type=1&theater

Herb Alpert - Steppin' Out - featuring Lani Hall

The CD does not seem to be on a label or have any series no. or barcode on it so I guess it is sort of a pre-release copy. The cover is Herb's own "Tango Americana" (acryllic on canvas)
There is a long list of thank you's that I am not going to write down but the album was produced by Herb and Lani and the main collaborators are Jeff Lorber, Eduardo del Barrio, Bill Cantos, the rest of the quartet and some additional musicians.

Even if I am a die hard fan for sure, I must say after having listened through it a few times, that this must be one of Herb Alpert's best albums ever. That goes especially to his trumpet playing throughout the record. Powerful, fun, sometimes moving, and not one note seems to be coincidental. I am very impressed with that.
In many ways one could say that "Steppin' Out" is a kind of synthesis of what Herb's music has been all about. You have elements of "smooth jazz" as on Second Wind, jazz ballads with lush strings as on "Midnight Sun". Latin influenced tracks as on a number of his albums and one can recognise some of the catchy melodic playing from the TJB days.

The album starts out with "Puttin On The Ritz" (Iriving Berlin) that most of us are familiar with already. Randy Badazz Alpert's simple and catchy rythm track and Herb's unmistakable trumpet sound has already placed this song among Herb's biggest hits in my view. It remains to be seen of course, but it has all the qualities. The crowd at the Hollywood Bowl went crazy over it.

"Jacky's Place" (Herb Alpert/Jeff Lorber, lyrics: Bill Cantos) is a surprising return to the smooth jazz style of 2nd Wind. But I think Herb seems even more at home here than on most 2nd Wind Tracks. The four Alpert/Lorber tracks on the album contribute a lighthearted musical energy that balances well with the rest of the album in my view. Lani Hall's participation on the album is much smaller than on the two previous Alpert/Hall albums but she always delivers, and sings on a part of this track.

"Our Song" (Art Pepper). Beautiful ballad starting out with just Herb and piano, and with a great string arrangement by Eduardo del Barrio.

"Green Lemonade"(Herb Alpert/Jeff Lorber). An irresistibly cool groove by Jeff Lorber and more great trumpet playing.

"I Only Have Eyes For You" (Harry Warren/Al Dubin) An imaginative new arrangement by Eduardo del Barrio and vocal contrbution by Lani.

"Good Morning Mr Sunshine" (Ruben Fuentes Gasson). The Tijuana Brass repertoire revisited with one of the arguably strongest melodies from the last days of the original TJB. A great arrangement by Bill Cantos and a fun chase/double line solo/duet by Herb and Bill. We are even graced with the two part trumpet ending on the last chorus.

"Oblivion" (Astor Piazzolla) A powerful latin ballad in a dramatic arrangement by Bill Cantos.

"What'll I Do?"(Irving Berlin) More classic "American Songbook" with an expressive vocal solo by Lani. Lush and wonderful strings by Eduardo del Barrio.

"Cote d' Azur" (Herb Alpert/Jeff Lorber) More sunstenched beach party smooth jazz. Maybe not the most memorable song on the album, but still fun to listen to.

"La vie en rose"(Gauglierini/Piaf/Beusher) This song has been part of the quartet's concert repertoire for a while. In stead of cashing in on the sentimental qualities of the melody, Herb sounds like if Edith Piaf had played trumpet, with a bouncy expressive feel. Great playing by Bill Cantos on piano.

"It's All In The Game" (Sigman/Dawes) More Herb and Bill co-operation and Lani on vocals with Herb playing some nice fills.

"Europa" (Coster/Santana). Herb's interpretation of Santana's great song literally brought tears to my eyes. It is beautifully arranged by Eduardo del Barrio, featuring piano, strings and accordeon.

"And The Angels Sing"(Elman/Mercer). To all TJB fans a classic from "Going Places" of course, even if it was originally a big band standard made famous by the likes of Benny Goodman. A stripped down tight-swinging version here, starting out with just an accoustic guitar and Herb.

"Skylark" (Carmichael/Mercer) Another great standard, beautiful trumpet playing and a fine arrangement by Bill Cantos and Mari Falcone.

"Migration" (Herb Alpert/Jeff Lorber, lyrics by Bill Cantos) The last of the Alpert/Lorber songs. It fits in nicely with a very good vocal contribution by Lani.

"The Lonely Bull" (Sol Lake). The A & M anniversary version. A worthy ending to a great album. Eduardo del Barrios inventive arrangement and Herb's sweet trumpet playing that brings back memories from the "Under A Spanish Moon" album.

All inn all an album that you should not miss out on!

- greetings from the nice and warm north -
Martin
 

Captain Bacardi

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Thanks for the review, Martin. Interesting that Herb chose Art Pepper's "Our Song", which is a gorgeous ballad that Pepper did. Herb said in one interview a few years back that he and Pepper had talked about doing a project together. Herb wanted Pepper to do some free association in the studio with a piano player and Art was interested in doing that, but unfortunately he passed away shortly afterwards. Too bad that project never came to fruition.

Looking forward to hearing the album!



Capt. Bacardi
 

Jazz Fan

Member
Great review Martin! Can't wait till the CD is released. The link to your
facebook for the CD cover doesn't work for me.

Shere Siegel
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
The link to Facebook doesn't work for me either. Great review though, looking forward to hearing it.
 

Captain Bacardi

Well-Known Member
Moderator
It works for me. Here's the image from his FB page:

1002463_10151515175626962_174906657_n.jpg




Capt. Bacardi
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
The cover looks a lot like My Abstract Heart...! And the songs look just as promising, too...


-- Dave
 

mikeargo

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Martin, for the excellent review. I like the look of the song mix, and I'm eager to hear this one. It hasn't shown up on Amazon yet but when it's available I'll be ordering through the A&M store.

=Mike A.
 

martin

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I just checked and saw that Steppin Out can be streamed from Spotify,

- greetings from the north -
Martin
 
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