Herb Alpert’s warm and instantly recognizable trumpet sound is ideal for Christmas music. It’s like throwing an extra log on the fire on a chilly night. His expressive playing brings out the yearning in “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the playfulness in “Santa Baby” and the reverence in “Silent Night.”
The Christmas Wish is Alpert’s second Christmas album. He recorded his first with the Tijuana Brass in 1968. This time around, he worked with a symphony orchestra and, on four tracks, a full choir.
Alpert co-produced the album with Chris Walden, a Grammy-nominated composer, arranger and conductor. Walden also arranged and conducted. Walden’s arrangement of “White Christmas” received a Grammy nomination last week for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella. (The awards will be presented on Sunday, January 28.)
Alpert’s wife, Lani Hall, sings the album’s one new song, “The Christmas Wish,” which Walden co-wrote with lyricist Paul Williams. Richard Carpenter arranged and conducted the choir on “Merry Christmas, Darling,” a ballad that he and his late sister Karen introduced in 1970. (Alpert signed the Carpenters and Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ‘66, which featured Hall, to A&M Records, the legendary record company he co-founded in 1962.)
Alpert dedicates the album “to my beautiful muse and wife Lani.” If Hall is his muse, it’s working. Alpert, 82, is recharged creatively. He’s as prolific as a musician half his age. This is his eighth studio album in the past eight years. (One of those albums, Steppin’ Out, brought him his eighth Grammy Award.)
The Christmas Wish is a lovely album that has Alpert’s signature grace and class. Gift it to someone you love.
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