HERB ALPERT & LANI HALL:
Puttin' on the Ritz at the bergenPAC
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Both Herb Alpert and Lani Hall are music legends in their own right but in recent years the married couple has melded their talents together. Herb & Lani collaborated on three albums. Their latest Steppin Out (2013) showcases standards from the American songbook along with jazz instrumentals infused with Latin-influenced rhythms. Alpert & Hall will be on the road much of 2015 in support of their record, which included a stop at the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey on March 25, 2015.


"You don't have to hear but three notes before you know it's Herb Alpert," stated the late Miles Davis. Alpert is an award winning trumpeter who has sold millions of records. Herb was also one of the founders of A&M Records, an independent label that launched the careers of many musicians. Not content to rest on his laurels, Herb still tours regularly, playing a wide selection of songs with passion.

Lani Hall is respected for her expressive vocal range. Lani has released fourteen solo albums, variously in English, Portuguese and Spanish. She is also well known for her earlier work with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. In 1986, Hall won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance for her record Es Facil Amar.

At the bergenPAC, Herb & Lani were backed by their brilliant band listing Michael Shapiro on drums/percussion, Hussain Jiffry on electric 6-string bass, along with Bill Cantos playing keyboards and a Steinway grand piano. Their concert consisted of jazz standards spiked with Brazilian flair and songbook favorites.


Above the stage was an abstract piece of artwork that changed shades depending on the lighting. The band was introduced as they took the stage. Herb strolled out greeted by cheers from the crowd at the bergenPAC. Alpert tantalized the fans with trumpet blasts backed by an up-tempo groove. Lani appeared with a shaker in hand as she sang "Moondance" the opening number. The quintet shined on their unique rendition of this well-known classic. "Chattanooga Choo Choo" chugged along on a worldly blend of keys, percussion and the trumpet.

"Thank you," said Alpert. He chatted a bit, starting with complements about the venue. He shared that much of the show would be improvisational. Herb also mentioned that he would be turning eighty at the end of the month, jesting that 79 is the new 80. The quintet returned to their rhythm heavy instrumentals that showcased standout solos from Herb and Bill throughout the night. Towards the end of the set Hussain and Michael demonstrated their dynamic solo skills on bass and drums respectively. Lani sang with emotion in several languages during the concert. Hall was also strong vocally in places that had challenging rhythm patterns. Lani presented Carol King's "Up on the Roof" with all the sentiment the song required. During that tune the pacing changed as the band flowed into a creative rendition of the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill."

The group covered standards along with jazzy jams flavored with world tones. The highlight of the concert was a medley of tracks from The Tijuana Brass (TJB). Alpert's trumpet solos were compelling within the context of these colorful compositions. Fans also thoroughly enjoyed Herb handling lead vocals on "This Guy's In Love With You." A peppy "Puttin on the Ritz" closed the show before they moved straight into their encore with more exploratory music.


Between songs, Alpert asked the attentive audience if they had any questions. An inquiry about a producer led to a summary of Herb's life as a musician. He started playing the trumpet when he was eight. For a time, Alpert tried to imitate his heroes such as Louie Armstrong later realizing that he needed to craft his own identity. Alpert recalled being on a major label in the early 60's where he was treated like a number. Based on that experience he decided to start his own record company with Jerry Moss. The duo created a label for artists to create. Another fan inquired who some of his favorite A&M artists were. Alpert replied "Cat Stevens, Sting, Supertramp and of course the Brasil '66."

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall played a wide range of music from Brazilian, brass, jazz and popular standards in a form that was innovative and improvisational. The bergenPAC located in the heart of Englewood, New Jersey continues to host an eclectic array of artists such as Herb Alpert with Lani Hall. Upcoming events at the bergenPAC include Joshua Bell, Popovich, Vadim Gluzman, Jay Leno, PPL, Firefall with ARS, Kix, John Winters, Dancing Pros, the NJ Ballet and Jeff Beck.


Related Links: For more information on HERB ALPERT & LANI HALL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Herb Alpert | Lani Hall | www.bergenpac.org

(Originally Published on March 27, 2015)

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