HERB ALPERT AND LANI HALL SWING ONTO MCANINCH STAGE
Husband and wife duo Herb Alpert and Lani Hall have made sweet music together for years, and are bringing some of that magic to Glen Ellyn this weekend.
Eight-time Grammy-award winning trumpeter Herb Alpert of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and his partner/wife Lani Hall of Brasil 66 perform a 6 p.m. show Saturday at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage.
And he’s not letting time or anything else slow him down. The 81-year-old just released an album of brand-new material, titled “Human Nature.” The new album, his fourth new release in three years, features five original compositions and covers of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature,” Burt Bacharach’s “Alfie,” Elton John’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” and Elvis Costello’s “Look Up Again.”
Last month, Alpert re-released 24 albums on CD, each remastered from the original analog tape mixes.
“I like to make music that makes me feel good. I’m on the positive side of music. I feel like if I can play songs that are fun for me to play, it’s going to be fun for a certain amount of people to listen to. I choose songs that haunt me, that come up in my memory bank if they’re known songs. And I’ve written a few songs with some friends. I have a good time playing.”
He started playing the trumpet when he was 8 years old, and he loves it as much now as ever, he said. “I’m passionate about it. I don’t do it because I have to. I do it because I need to; it keeps me healthy.”
Jackson’s “Human Nature” is one of those melodies that lingered in his head, he said. “I try to do it in a way that hasn’t been done before so (people) get a new look at it.”
You may or may not hear some of those new songs when they come to Glen Ellyn. “You probably will. We have a whole list of songs we can play,” Alpert said. “We try not to play the same songs every night so we don’t get bored with it. We want to keep it fresh. That’s the only way to make it fun. I try to bring fresh ideas to the songs each time I play them.”
You’re almost guaranteed to hear “Tijuana Brass Medley” because he knows people would be disappointed if he didn’t play it.
“I’m OK doing that, and here again, I try to bring a fresh feeling to the songs as I play them. I think that’s the fun part of being a musician. To be creative, you have to create as you go.”
Hall, who grew up in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago, said the audience will hear her sing a medley of songs she recorded for the Sergio Mendes group Brasil 66.
“People really love to hear those old, evergreen songs,” she said. “But other than that, we do our own thing. We do standards from the Great American Songbook but from a completely different approach and a different arrangement, so these songs sounds like fresh tunes. People have really responded so lovely to our show. It’s so much fun for us.”
“She’s a world-class singer,” Alpert said of his wife of 42 years.
They will try to add some of the new material to the set, like Burt Bacharach’s “Alfie.”
“We love to do what we’re doing. We have a wonderful time and we have this gift and we want to share it and we want to share it with each other, too,” she said. “There’s so much joy to be with the musicians that we have … they’re incredible musicians. It’s different every night for us and we never know what’s going to happen and we love that surprise.”
Working with her husband is a privilege, she said.
“It’s the perfect situation for us,” she said. “It’s a privilege to sit onstage and hear how creative he is and how expressive he is and how melodic his choices are, and the rhythms and the way he phrases. He’s always growing as an artist. He’s always practicing at home every day, so he’s always changing and growing. It’s really quite special to be able to be there and receive that.”
When he’s not playing music, Alpert dabbles in other art forms. He’s a painter and a sculptor, and is perhaps most famously noted for having eight sculptures at the south steps of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and one inside the museum. They were just extended for another year.
“I’m a right-brained person. I wake up and think about music and think about painting and think about sculpting,” he said. “That kind of consumes my life. I’m not a businessman in the traditional sense. I’m lucky that I have a good partner and good people around me so I get to do what I love to do.”