In a time when young men attempt to promote their level of cool via manbuns and over-groomed beards, Herb Alpert still navigates at an altitude so high – yet understated – that he makes Steve McQueen seem like a nerd. There is a simple elegance about Albert that makes everything he does look easy, perhaps because for him it is.
Alpert and wife Lani Hall are at the Café Carlyle through September 16th and this is not an engagement to be missed. I have seen them multiple times over the past five years and last night was the best performance yet. Alpert is fond of engaging the audience at this intimate venue and he makes it feel more like a party than a show. After a few numbers, he asked for questions or comments and an audience member said, “It’s all downhill from here,” to which Alpert quickly responded, “Maybe for you, baby.” Although Alpert spoke to the crowd, he did so a bit less than in the past and treated everyone to a longer, wonderfully eclectic set list that included everything from Van Morrison to Irving Berlin.
Most of the arrangements have a unique Brazilian flair and I felt like I was listening to old standards as if it were the first time. Hall has a rich, soulful voice and her interpretation of “Up on the Roof” got my eyes teary, but an effortless segue into a Brasil ’66 medley had me bouncing in my seat shortly thereafter.
Jim Bouton mentioned in his book, Ball Four, about being a major league player walking through the outfield at a crowded ballpark and reminding himself how special an experience it was. “Sometimes I forget to tingle,” said Bouton.
Herb Alpert is funny, engaging and – as my grandmother used to say – “a real mensch.”
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall are still at the top of their game and seeing them in this intimate environment is a rare and unique experience that I will always cherish and remember. I’m still tingling.
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at the Café Carlyle through September 16th
Herb Alpert – Trumpet
Lani Hall – Vocals
Bill Cantos – Piano
Hussain Jiffry – Bass
Michael Shapiro – Drums