Review: Smooth grooves rule on Herb Alpert’s ‘Human Nature’

Herb Alpert, “Human Nature” (Herb Alpert Presents)

Why mess with success?

Pop-jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert has sold records by the truckload since the 1960s, and if his easy-listening style has become a byword for elevator music, that doesn’t make it any less influential.

The 81-year-old founder of the Tijuana Brass returns with an album — his fourth in three years — featuring original compositions alongside tracks by songwriters including Burt Bacharach, seasoned with a light sprinkling of electronic dance music.

Alpert remains a skilled bandleader and arranger. The title track, made famous by Michael Jackson, entirely suits the treatment it gets here: relaxed and largely instrumental, with a Latin groove and a bubbling electronic bassline. The same is true of the lighter-than-air arrangement of Bacharach and Hal David’s “Alfie.”

The main new element is the strand of electronica underlying Alpert’s languid trumpet. It’s hardly a radical departure to Alpert’s sound, but a skittering electro beat propels Bacharach’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and Alpert’s composition “Incognito.”

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