Review: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

© Andreas Neumann

Herb Alpert and his wife, singer Lani Hall, are delivering an evening of blissful nostalgia and superb musicianship at the Café Carlyle. Representing a rare concert appearance by the legendary trumpeter--and under wonderfully intimate circumstances at that--the show is not to be missed.


 In the course of the relaxed proceedings, Alpert frequently takes the opportunity to gab with the audience. Admitting that at this point in his highly successful career—he was also the co-founder of A&M Records—he doesn’t need the money, he explains the real reason for his return to live performances: “I need the energy.”


And even at age 76, that energy is on ample display. Playing a muted trumpet, his instrumentals were as joyous and precise as they were fifty years ago when he burst into international stardom with the Tijuana Brass.


The evening showcases Alpert’s jazzier side, with many selections taken from the couple’s Anything Goes CD. Accompanied by a superb three-piece band, Hall, formerly the original lead singer with Sergio Mendes’ Brasil 66, lends her lustrous pipes to standards by the likes of Berlin and Porter as well as several Brazilian numbers. Her consistently powerful vocals on such songs as “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “Anything Goes” display as much emotional desperation as joyous defiance.


Alpert frequently sings too, to charming effect. He delivered a charming medley of “This Guy’s in Love with You” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” in a whispery but appealing voice that belied his protestation that “this is what you call chutzpah.” But it’s his instrumentals that truly shine, such as a Latin-style arrangement of the classic “Laura” and a “Night and Day” that amusingly included snippets of “If I Was a Rich Man.”


It’s when Alpert tapped into his hit-laden past that the audience truly swooned with delight. After a brief snippet from his monster hit, “Rise,” he performed a medley of Tijuana Brass favorites that was far too brief. Hearing his stirring trumpet on such classics as “The Lonely Bull,” “A Taste of Honey,” “Tijuana Taxi” and “Whipped Cream” was sheer baby boomer heaven.


“That was fun, I had a good time,” Alpert commented after the medley was done. So did we, Herb, so did we.


Café Carlyle, 35 E. 76th St. 212-744-1600.