Review: Herb Alpert’s “Fandango” in High Res

FandangoLate last year, the Herb Alpert Presents label issued a large number of Herb Alpert’s titles (both with and without the Tijuana Brass) digitally, including high-resolution 24-bit, 88kHz files available from HDTracks and Acoustic Sounds.  Restoration work was done by Randy Badazz (Alpert), and mastering by the great Bernie Grundman.

I have heard at least a dozen of the high-res titles at this point, and the best praise I can give them is that they faithfully reproduce what is on the master tapes.  Now, are these master tapes perfect?  No.  If you consider that the tapes for some of the popular Tijuana Brass albums were used dozens of times, stored for over 40 (if not over 50) years, and suffering the effects of tape degradation, it’s no wonder that there are small imperfections here and there.

To be honest, this is perfectly acceptable.  We are being offered a rare glimpse of how the actual tapes sound, the high-res files bringing us as close to the original analog format as possible in the digital format.

Fandango has long been a fan favorite title.  Recorded in Mexico City, the tracks all have a nice Latin jazz feel to them.  “Route 101” and “Push and Pull” were radio hits here in the Motor City.  In a few ways, Alpert’s style is reminiscent of the old Tijuana Brass days, but the musical style is firmly rooted in 1980s Mexico.  This album was the fourth in a string of successful albums, which began with his chart-topping “Rise” from 1979.

What strikes me right away is how much this title in high-res reminds me of my vinyl copy of the album (which I have owned since the week of release).  There is a nice warmth and clarity to the sound which I have never heard in digital form–the CD versions always seemed to have a bright, annoying edge to them.  Kudos to Randy Badazz for the fine work on the restoration, and for Bernie putting his finishing touches on the final files.

A caveat for music shoppers–for official releases of Herb Alpert’s recordings, the sole label releasing his recordings worldwide is Herb Alpert Presents. Thanks to the market being flooded with dubiously sourced CD and vinyl releases, we now have to make this distinction so shoppers are not misled into purchasing an unauthorized product.