# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall - Vic Theatre, Chicago, 16/9/2023

  by Lisa Torem

published: 5 / 12 / 2023

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall - Vic Theatre, Chicago, 16/9/2023

It’s an arguable landmark year for Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. They released their forty-ninth studio album, ‘Wish Upon a Star,’ featuring covers by luminaries Cat Stevens, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beatles and The Carpenters, and the talented California twosome are celebrating another major milestone, their 50th anniversary. The evening included outstanding multi-media effects. As Mr. Alpert, besides being former co--label owner of A & M Records and an award-winning trumpet player and producer, is also a sculptor and painter, many visuals included massive images of his work in both disciplines. Over the course of the evening, images expanded to reflect various song themes, such as the sentiments behind ‘What a Wonderful World’ (written by Bob Thiele, as ‘George Douglas’ and George David Weiss.) But when Mr. Alpert spoke to the packed house, he didn’t stand on ceremony when addressing a dark side--“How about all the wars all over the world? If only we would give life a chance” … The expansive set list underscored medleys, as well as full-blown arrangements; each performed with an imaginative twist. For the ballad, ‘What Now My Love,’ for instance, the percussionist palmed a pair of congas, while striking the snare with the other hand, creating a bewitching Latin zeitgeist. Long-standing pianist Bill Cantos’ impromptu scat singing and jazz riffs superbly matched Mr. Alpert’s own smooth trumpet lines, and on his distinguished six-string bass, Sri-Lankan musician, Hussain jiffry, ramped up a series of melodic ostinatos. The stage setup was delightfully informal. When Ms. Hall, her striking red and black outfit, grabbed the microphone, Mr. Alpert would sometimes play a shaker or simply look on lovingly. Lani’s contralto has retained the air-y yet persuasive quality that brought her to fame with Sergio Mendez Brazil ’66. Her English language-version of ‘One Note Samba’ was a terrific crossover. Mr. Alpert’s wit was key to connecting with the audience. ‘Every now and then, I get to play in a venue that’s older than me,” he quipped, waving his hand toward the well-constructed, circular, but vintage balcony. “Any ideas to get off your chest?” he asked. When opening the platform up for questions, he triggered an immediate response from random fans. “We played at the McCormick Place,” he added, “and the next morning we heard it burned down.” His easy-going confidence belied his self-perception when he confessed: “I am a card-carrying introvert.” And soon, it was back to the music. “I’m going to play some evergreens,” he explained, moving on to the anthemic ‘Rise’ (the title track of a 1979 smash hit), embraced by Cantos’ elegant flourish. The misty melody also appears on the 2022 soundtrack for the Netflix thriller ‘Spiderhead.’ Another crowd-pleaser was the minor-tinged, Tijuana Brass classic, ‘The Lonely Bull.’ When Mr. Alpert sang, ‘This Guy’s In Love With You,’ he invited the audience to sing along and accompanied the standard with complements to composer Burt Bacharach, who, “didn’t charge me a penny.” “Lani told me people in Chicago have spirit,” he said. In return, she remarked that she loves “the light.” Her rendition of ‘just Like a Star’ was, in fact, embellished by stellar explosions and Cantos’ subtle tinkling. Ms. Hall has always had a flair for switching gears mood wise, from song to song, modulation to modulation. While samba, ‘The Look of Love’ was seething and soulful, The Beatles’ ‘Fool on the Hill’ was lively and toasted with warm, physical gestures. Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’ boasted her impeccable enunciation and ‘Mas que Nada’ did the same, but in Portuguese. Lauded for her polyglot talent and polished interpretations, she won a Grammy in 1986 under the “Best Latin Pop Performance Category.” Mr. Alpert was quick to announce, “I got goosebumps back in 1966 when I first heard her sing.” The more contemporary hit, by Jason Mraz, ‘I’m Yours’ was pumped up with vitality. Then, she launched into Jonathan Larson’s ‘Seasons of Love’ from the 1996 musical ‘Rent,’ which was lithely accented by Cantos’ on synthesizer. Wither’s infamous ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ was a delirious lift, with Hussain Jiffry joining in for lead vocals, leaving room for carnivalesque fills by percussionist Tiki Pasillas and Jiffry’s strong finish. ‘Fly Me to The Moon’ found Ms. Hall on tambourine, along with exquisite drum fills and Mr. Alpert’s definitive horn punctuations. While Mr. Alpert’s reputation has been solidly built on an infinite string of skills, he professed a particular love for one genre: “It’s here and it’s gone. Jazz is all about freedom. Jazz touched it.” He pined for a moment about never experimenting with bebop, although he has remained an ardent admirer of the style. Moreover, in response to his faithful pianist’s improvisational builds, he softly said: “Little by little, he works his way into something you’ve never heard before.” When a shout-out from the crowd asked about his “formula,” he countered: “I’m passionate about what I’m doing,” proclaiming that the horn is just a piece of plumbing pipe, but “the instrument comes from within you.” Mr. Alpert’s position at A & M allowed him to unveil multiple acts. As such, his tribute to Karen Carpenter, of The Carpenters, was touching. ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ was one of the brother and sister team’s most well-known ballads, and with shots of the chanteuse replicated on triple screens and with the addition of lush strings, her memory was fondly rekindled. A litany of celebratory songs followed: ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ and Irving Berlin’s ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz,’ which illuminated the auditorium with an amusing video, favoring dancers springing out of a bus, with a glimpse of Mr. Alpert steering the wheel. The encore included Barry Manilow’s exciting ‘Copa Cabana,’ with Mr. Alpert confessing, “I wanted to do this song for the longest time,” but then coaxing the audience into his aura: “You guys are going to sing the bridge.” After the concert, fans stayed to compare stories. Siblings Joan and Dave wanted to take their 81-year-old mother to the concert, but the plan didn’t work out health-wise. Nevertheless, it was their first-time seeing Herb Alpert and Lani Hall live, and when getting ready to go, they were, understandably, excited. Afterwards, they conferred. “The music was heartbreaking,” Joan said. “It’s a love story,” her sibling offered, referring to both the music and Herb Alpert and Lani Hall’s romance. A row of locals, also first-timers, appreciated the diverse musical selection. Earlier in the evening, Mr. Alpert inspired an ovation by playing Grammy winner ‘A Taste of Honey’ (from 1965 chestnut ‘Whipped Cream and Other Delights’) against a visual of the Tijuana Brass positioned on jagged cliffs, their horns pointing toward pale, blue skies. “Did some of these songs take you someplace?” the 88-year-old impresario inquired, more closely to the 90-plus minute, concert sign-off time. Yes. Someplace timeless; someplace we would be fools to forget.

Band Links:-

Play in YouTube:-

Picture Gallery:-
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall - Vic Theatre, Chicago, 16/9/2023

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall - Vic Theatre, Chicago, 16/9/2023

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall - Vic Theatre, Chicago, 16/9/2023

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors