It was the evening my husband and I had been waiting for, the Herb Alpert and Lani Hall one-night only (June 2, 2013) performance at the Park West. We arrived early to have dinner before the show and were surprised to see the line of fans stretching around the block waiting to see the show, especially since it was a very cold evening. There were clearly many others excited about this show. Waiting to get our tickets it was interesting to hear questions fans were asking. Are they married? (yes for 40 years). Do you know about their foundation? (It saved several music schools).
Once inside seated in our booth, we looked at Herb’s enlarged painting, a backdrop on the stage and noted its many colors of blue. The room continued to fill to capacity with enthusiastic fans, one of whom, brought along the first album, that is record album, not CD, that Herb recorded.
A couple from Indiana, Jim and Betsy Lauer, shared our booth. While my husband and I were more familiar with Herb Alpert - my husband overlapped Herb Alpert’s attendance at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, Jim and Betsy had Lani Hall albums dating to the 70s. I was told the audience in general more or less split the way our table did. In an interview with Herb and Lani a few weeks ago (see), I learned they really enjoy the music they make together and the audience certainly did, too.
The performance was personal, warm and charming. The music was comprised of old recognizable tunes with exciting original new interpretations. It was nostalgic, sentimental and romantic. Their reinterpretation of well-known oldies was remarkable in the original use of rhythm and harmony. Lani and Herb make each number a gift to the audience. They clearly delight in one another and in their music and the audience also benefits.
Jim Lauer commented:
“I’m glad I made my wife come. They both sounded great as ever. Lani Hall’s voice was spot-on and sounds as good as she did 30 years ago. I had several of her albums back in the 70’s. I am going to see if I still have some in the garage and if not, I go to Amazon!”
My husband and I found that Herb only gets better and better. The sounds that he brought forth from the trumpet were luscious, beautiful, romantic and so easy to listen to. I really loved when Lani and Herb sang together, and when Lani read a poem she wrote as Herb’s trumpet accompanied her. There were wonderful oldies and goodies, “La Vie En Rose” took me back many years, and A Taste of Honey sounded as sweet as ever. (It was delicious!)
The evening was personal and memorable. Lani told the story of the way she began singing. Her very good friend when she was in her teens was Leah Hertz Benjamin, to whom all of us should be grateful. Without her, Lani may never have been in a place to share the gift of her beautiful voice. Leah was in the audience.
I also loved the “hot” Lani singing Fever with a bright orange background. Herb has a new CD soon to be released and if the rendition we heard of one of the songs on the album, Puttin’ on the Ritz is an indication of what you will hear on the album, you should get your order in now for Steppin Out, to be released later this year.
The members of their band were also wonderful. Bill Cantos was especially surprising with his playing of an electronic keyboard in addition to the piano and his vocal was terrific and a surprise. Michael Shapiro on drums, and Hussain Jiffry on bass were great. The way the music blends together makes for wonderful listening.
Herb and Lani are very talented with skills in other areas. Herb is an accomplished painter and sculpture with a recent exhibit in Santa Monica, CA and Lani is a new author. Herb’s painting was the backdrop for the orchestra and Lani is scheduled to sign her new book, Emotional Memoirs and Short Stories (which was released in 2012) on Tuesday, June 4th, 1-2:30 at Foodease Restaurant Market, (Water Tower Place).
If you were not at the Park West on Sunday you missed your chance to see Herb Alpert and Lani Hall in Chicago but you can do as we did and get Lani’s book and their most recent CD, “Anything Goes”, holding on to some of what they offer
For upcoming events at the Park West
Photos: Leon Keer