Viewing entries in
Latin Jazz

Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass - !!Going Places!! (Album Review)


Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass - !!Going Places!! (Album Review)

Have you ever had that experience where you know a piece of music so well, yet you have no idea who the artist is? Well, last night as l was randomly looking for some new music, I came across Herb Alpert's !!Going Places!! and hadn't the foggiest idea of what to expect. My absent-mindedness wasn't to last long, however, as within the first few notes of Tijuana Taxi, I immediately knew the tune and could recall it being featured in a random television show or film that I have long since forgotten. Regardless, I was off and running and would also listen to Alpert's The Beat Of The Brass and What Now My Love. Both are exceptional albums and well worth your time checking out. As I listened, I couldn't believe that I had never known, or collected, the music arguably made famous by Herb Alpert. I guess it is better late than never!

I hope you have experienced Herb Alpert before, but either way, join me as we explore the exceptional Latin Jazz album that is !!Going Places!!.

Tjiuana Taxi is an incredible tune that has my entire body moving to the rhythm. Absolutely brilliant!

I’m Getting Sentimental Over You transitions beautifully from Tijuana Taxi. While it is a little more mellow, by comparison, it is equally addictive and a lovely song to listen to.

More And More Amor slows the album down to a romantic pace. I absolutely adore it! The musicality is incredible and when I hear music recorded, mixed, and mastered this well, I can't understand where we went wrong with the loudness wars. I could listen to More And More Amor for hours without suffering fatigue.

Spanish Flea is another tune I recognised the moment I heard it. It is nothing short of perfection. Wow!

Mae is like a slow waltz for the sonic senses. It is very enjoyable and fits perfectly with the style of the album.

3rd Man Theme gets my body moving again. The guitar strumming throughout this song is exceptional. Although, every sonic element of 3rd Man Theme is nothing short of pure perfection. It is one of the best songs on the album and is an absolute pleasure to be able to listen to. We are truly blessed to have music this good.

Walk, Don't Run is another exceptional tune that I'm sure we’ve all heard before. It is as rock and roll as jazz can get and certainly fits within the Jazz Fusion ethos.

Felicia is a beautifully mellow song. What I continue to be amazed at is how well these songs, with quite different rhythms, coexist in the album format. It is a diverse, yet similar, collection of songs that never feel out-of-place. I mention this as it is a rare occurrence. In the age of the single song attention span, additional tracks on albums are increasingly B-sides and that is a shame as I feel the album format, as a piece of recorded performance art, is still an essential element to the music appreciation process. Sure, you can enjoy a song on its own, but there is nothing quite like a cohesive album experience.

And The Angels Sing is beautiful!

Cinco De Mayo is a good song, but it is a B-side. Subsequently, I find myself not connecting with it as much as I would like. That said, it does work well in the album format.

A Walk in The Black Forest is a fantastic little tune. I love it!

Zorba The Greek is an incredible final track that is musically dynamic. It encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within Alpert's catalogue.

!!Going Places!! may only have a relatively short runtime of just over 29 minutes, but when music is this good, I will take quality over quantity any day of the week.

The cover art is similarly compelling and well thought out. I dare say, a vinyl edition would look stunning.

While I do intend to pick up the 2016 vinyl reissue, I can honestly say that the MQA 24/88.2 kHz TIDAL Masters edition is superb and likely the best way to experience this album; certainly from a sonic perspective. I also listened to the 16/44.1 kHz TIDAL Hi-Fi edition and while I would also be very happy listening to that edition, the soundstage is a little shallower and sonic elements that are present on the MQA edition are somewhat concealed on the standard 16/44.1 kHz version. These differences, however, are only truly apparent when comparing releases. Once the music plays, you will be captivated with either option. It is simply that good!

However, I would stay clear of the 2005 reissue of the album as it is harsh and lacks the subtle nuances that make the 2015 remasters so appealing. Also, it is important to note, if you are a headphone listener you may find the bass in the left channel to be a little muffled on some songs. One example of this can be heard on Walk, Don’t Run. Having listened to the various masterings I conclude that the bass is soggy across the entire lineup thereby indicating that it is present on the original recording. Even if I turn off the Bass+ feature on my Oppo HA-2, the bass still sounds loose. It far from a major problem, but one that needed to be noted. I didn’t experience this issue at all playing on loud speakers, using the same DAC/AMP, hence your experience may differ. 

!!Going Places!! is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes). If you prefer streaming, !!Going Places!! is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.


Victor Cajiao And Joe Cristina – Surrender (FLAC 16/44.1 Review)

1 Comment

Victor Cajiao And Joe Cristina – Surrender (FLAC 16/44.1 Review)

Imagine you’re at a big city jazz club. The drinks are flowing. The smell of dinner emanates from the kitchen as you make small talk with your beloved while the band is warming up. There is something special in the air tonight. You surrender yourself to an evening of bliss and know from the first track that you will not come away disappointed.

No, Surrender isn’t a live album, but it is so exceptionally vivid that I swear the musicians are in the room with me. I don’t think I have ever turned up a Jazz record this loud before. Normally, I would sit the volume around 30-35% of max volume, for digital music playback. That produces a sound that I consider full and enveloping on my main system. For this album, however, I pushed that to 50% and had a surreal moment whereby a jazz club oasis appeared before me.

The mastering on Surrender is top notch, hence my ability to push volume levels beyond my normal comfort zone. This is digital done right! While I have mainly listened to, and prefer, the FLAC 16/44.1 files, the mastering quality remains consistent across both the MP3 (320 kbps and VBR) files that are included in the purchase, when you buy the album from CD Baby.

As I listened to the title track Surrender, the first thing that popped into my head was Carlos Santana. It was the vibe, the beat, the electric guitar work merged with an energetic jazz backing track that formed this image. That isn’t to say that the song attempts to be Santana-esk, but if you like Santana, I really believe you will love this track.

11-22 has a Bossa Nova feel to it that reminds me of the Quincy Jones track Se E Tarde Me Pardoa (Forgive Me If I’m Late). I absolutely adore it!

Canto Libre is nothing short of a sonic wonderland. The stereo imaging is amazing. This song is literally one that will encourage you to close your eyes as the music paints a picture in your subconscious. Interestingly, I was initially torn regarding the inclusion of harmonic-styled vocals. While the vocals don’t detract from the song, I felt the song didn’t need them. However, when I listened to the song via headphones, rather than loudspeakers, this perception changed. Music truly tells a story and sometimes the intimate nature of headphones allows that story to be told and appreciated differently.

Dubai Dream has a compelling beat that will get your foot tapping and head swaying from the first note. The saxophone work within this track is gorgeously restrained. I love the saxophone as an instrument but, just like the electric guitar, it can be overemphasised. That is certainly not the case on this track. I could honestly listen to Dubai Dream on repeat for hours.

Manolo is a beautiful track, but I find that the chime elements distract my mind from the music. While they are atmospheric and not harsh, they are sometimes unexpected. I feel my listening mind moving around the soundstage a little too much, not really quite sure of where I should be concentrating. That all said, I find that as they song progresses, this becomes less problematic. 

Light This Candle is a beautiful song, with Christina Clifford on vocals. Clifford has a lovely jazz-style vocal, but I find there is a little sibilance in her vocals. As I’ve mentioned in many of my other reviews, if you’re not familiar with sibilance, ignore this comment and don’t look into it as once you know what to listen for, it can become rather distracting.

If you like the piano and saxophone, then you have to listen to Tu También. It is such a beautiful track and one of my favourites on the album. When I undertake reviews, I generally have a notepad to jot down thoughts as I’m listening. My note for this song was: sax on track 7 = YEAH!

Through The Dark Night/The Lamp is a rather upbeat track and I can’t help but wonder if it shouldn’t have been tracked before Tu También. It is only that Tu También is more mellow and subjectively I feel it would have been the perfect track to end the album on. Nevertheless, Through The Dark Night/The Lamp has some beautiful guitar work and the vocals are lovely. However, I would like the vocals to be a little more forward as there are moments when I feel they get lost in the accompanying musical elements, especially during the verses.

Victor and Joe have put together a jazz album that not only shows a deep appreciation of the genre, but also proves that a lifelong friendship and collaboration can produce an album that will be enjoyed by generations of jazz lovers. It is certainly a valued addition to my own jazz collection.

That said, it would be amiss of me to not acknowledge the remarkable line-up of highly skilled and respected musicians who have appeared on this album. This is a recording that each and every one of them can be proud of.

From a non-musical perspective, Nikki Starwalker’s album artwork, Dream Oty's Memory is exceptional and visually represents the feeling of the album.

Surrender will undoubtedly appeal to any jazz fan, but remains accessible to a wider audience. You can purchase your copy from the following online retailers: CD Baby, TIDAL Store, iTunes, and Amazon.

The album is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

1 Comment