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No bull

Herb Alpert at Scullers
By BRETT MILANO  |  May 19, 2008

There was nothing campy or kitschy about Herb Alpert’s local appearance this week, and in a way that’s a shame. Alpert is seldom mentioned in the same breath as the Beach Boys, the Supremes, or the Rolling Stones, though his Tijuana Brass outsold them all in the ’60s. (Only Elvis, Sinatra, and the Beatles outsold Alpert.) And a recent reissue series proved the Tijuana Brass catalogue to be full of clever writing and sly humor, bachelor-pad swank of the first order.

Now 73, Alpert has made more than enough money for a cozy retirement (he co-founded A&M Records); these days he seldom tours or records. His sold-out Scullers show seemed to be full of people in the same boat, or maybe the same yacht: an older crowd in upscale-casual dress who appeared to be ordering nothing but white wine and brandy from the bar. These weren’t the ’60s obsessives who pack the oldies shows or the retro-hipsters who’ve picked up on Tijuana Brass reissues like The Lonely Bull and Whipped Cream & Other Delights. So nobody complained much when Alpert played a show that virtually ignored the Tijuana catalogue. Save for a muted take on “A Taste of Honey” and brief quotes from a few other hits, the set was devoted to Brazilian pop and pre-rock standards.

It was as much a vehicle for Alpert’s wife, former Brasil ’66 frontwoman Lani Hall — though her hits, “Mas Que Nada” and the Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill,” weren’t done either. Alpert announced early on that they’d conceived the tour while on vacation in Hawaii, and that set the breezy tone of the evening. He solo’d with quiet elegance while never venturing too far from the melodies — a lightly funkafied “Bésame Mucho” was as modern as it got. Things got sultry only when Hall took on Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” a coy, flirtatious number (it was written for Fred Astaire in Follow the Fleet) that she made sound more like a forceful come-on. “And I get to see her in the shower every morning,” Alpert noted afterward. It was clear the audience appreciated the intimation of later-life passion as much as it had the music.

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  Topics: Live Reviews , Elvis Sinatra, Entertainment, Fred Astaire,  More more >
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No bull
I saw this show last night in Napa, CA and I loved it. I never really cared much for the commercialized A&M sound of the TJB or Brazil 66 after their first two albums. Lani Hall still has a hauntingly beautiful voice that penetrates to my very soul, just as it did the first time I heard her. Herb Alpert is a great great jazz and studio musician and their quintet was a real treat for lovers of Brazilian flavored jazz and standards. Most of the crowd in Napa was older and many of them came because of the commercial appeal of the TJB. Some of them did not even know who Lani Hall was but they know now. I immediately began a search for a CD version of Lani Hall's debut solo album, "Sundown Lady." Sadly, it is not easily available but I hope this tour will cause of revival of interest in Lani Hall and Herb Alpert and the wonderful music they still offer. Gary Schubach, Ed.D., A.C.S. //
By DoctorG on 05/24/2008 at 4:06:09
No bull
I attended the two performances at Yoshi's in San Francisco last weekend. It was a night of elegant music. I think there is an effort underway to release at least some of her previously released works. Keep watching for it.
By Tom Jensen on 05/29/2008 at 1:26:53

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