Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

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Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

Café Carlyle, NYC, November 19, 2o19

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Herb Alpert & Lanie Hall
Photo: David Andrako

The words that come to my mind about Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at the Café Carlyle are “great music,” “fun,” and “love.” At age 84 Alpert is still at the top of his game as a great trumpeter; Hall is a wonderful vocalist who was lead singer on a multitude of Brasil 66’s hit records. Love is shown constantly on stage by the couple who have been married for 45 years; they look at each other lovingly as they perform, and even occasionally sneak in a kiss. There was also an outpouring of love from the packed audience composed equally of younger people and those who have been Alpert’s fans for 40 or more years. The music mostly consisted of Alpert’s 29 Billboard Top 20 hits and Hall’s hits with Brasil 66. It’s just plain fun to listen to and occasionally sing-a-long with these songs. Alpert has a wonderful sense of self-effacing humor, that frequently brought roars of laughter. The duo are backed by three great sidemen who sing and swing: Bill Cantos (piano), Hussain Jiffry (bass), and Michael Shapiro (drums.) To add to the fun, the show featured background videos covering the decades of Alpert and Hall’s careers.

The show opened with a video of Louis Armstrong singing Alpert’s arrangement of “What a Wonderful World.” If there were doubts about Alpert’s current ability to still blow his horn, they were blown away with his opening medley of “Work Song” and “What Now My Love.” Hall’s first song was a swinging “Moondance.” As demanded by the audience, Alpert and the trio performed a medley of his hits beginning with “Rise” and ending with “A Taste of Honey.” He then told the story of how he, a “non-singer,” recorded a No. 1 hit vocal with “This Guy’s in Love with You.” As he is a “non-singer,” he asked the audience to sing along with him on it.

Hall opened her medley with “Up on the Roof” and then followed with eight hits she recorded with Brasil 66, beginning with “The Look of Love” and ending with a sing-along on “Mas Que Nada.” Bassist Jiffry performed the vocal on “Santa Baby” with videos of babies in background provoking laughter. Alpert did a dazzling solo on “Fly Me to the Moon.” Hall and pianist Cantos did the vocal on a swinging and very un-Sinatra-like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” They would combine again for the closing number, a lively “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The encore was a medley of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” With the audience clamoring for more, the second encore of this very entertaining 90-minute show, was “Copacabana,” with the audience singing along for the first chorus and Hall singing the second in Portuguese.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.