Herb Alpert: Fandango
Challenged and fired up by some new Mexican colleagues, Herb Alpert set out to make a record specifically for the Latin American market and ended up producing a masterpiece — the equal of the best Tijuana Brass albums, and in some ways maybe better than any of them. Fandango has a more authentically Latin American sound than the cosmopolitan TJB records, using rhythms from Mexico to South America, adding a coating of strings or synthesizers and Alpert’s soaring trumpets. More importantly, with the help of co-producer José Quintana, Alpert lined up some incredibly beautiful material from then-little-known writers like Juan Carlos Calderón, Diego Verdaguer, Rafael Perez Botija and Roberto Carlos. Some of these tracks are spine-chilling in their emotional pull and uncanny sense of structure; Alpert the master of the studio working at his peak. Alpert’s magnificent renderings of Calderón’s high-flying “Route 101” (a Top 40 hit single) and aching “Margarita” are perfect records; you wouldn’t want to change a note. He also has a ball with Verdaguer’s driving “Coco Loco,” and the concluding track is a fast-moving medley of Latin American hits starting with Mexico’s “Frenesi” and rambling through Brazil’s “Bahia” and Spain’s “Moliendo Cafe” before riding off with the irresistible Venezuelan “Porompompero.” As much as one hates to limit the horizons of an adventurous musician like Herb Alpert, one must admit that Latin influences inspire his best work — and whether working in a Latin framework or not, he has yet to equal this CD.
Video: Herb Alpert – Route 101 (1982)