Artist : Herb Alpert and Lani Hall
Album : Anything Goes
Released Date : August, 2009
Label : Concord Records
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. These two names have been as my favorite artists for such a long time. Both of them have a very long career as jazz artists, more than 4 decades, with many outstanding achievements and stories behind it. When Sergio Mendes‘ 2008 album “Encanto” was released, I was delighted to see these perfect couple appeared again as a guest star in one song, “Dreamer”. It was a very sweet reunion between them, and now I’m more delighted to see that a very special and intimate album of Herb Alpert and Lani Hall entitled “Anything Goes“, has been released through Concord Records.
The iconic trumpetist/producer/composer/music executive Herb Alpert is often remembered as the leader of the legendary “Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass” or simply called TJB. Many of the songs came from The Tijuana Brass eras are still very popular today, like the Grammy award winning “A Taste of Honey”, “Whipped Cream”, “What Now My Love” and of course the memorable theme song for the 1967 controversial James Bond movie, “Casino Royale”. What I also recall clearly is his successful hit, the seducing jazz instrumental “Rise” taken from the album with the same title in his solo career, also “Keep Your Eye On Me” that unbelievably peaked at Dance and R&B top charts and of course the superb collaboration with Janet Jackson on “Diamonds”. All along his spanning career, Alpert has managed to sell 72 million albums worldwide, yielding 5 “Number 1” hits, 8 Grammy awards, 14 Platinum and 15 Gold albums. He is also known as one of the founders of the most successful independent record label in the world, A&M Records, together with Jerry Moss. The A&M Records was in charge for releasing many successful albums for 3 decades and had worked with many outstanding artists such as The Carpenters, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, Bill Medley, Liza Minelli, Janet Jackson and many more, and of course Alpert’s wife since 1973, Lani Hall who collaborate with him in this album.
Lani Hall‘s fame began when Sergio Mendes spotted her singing in a nightclub in Chicago some time in 1965. Stunned by her vocal quality, Mendes directly asked her to become the lead vocalist for the new group he was putting together, the legendary Brasil 66. It was the right choice, as Lani Hall’s unique vocal helped to bring the group to its international stardom and is still remembered by bossa lovers until today. Who can forget the way she interpret “Fool on the Hill”, “Mas Que Nada”, “Night & Day”, “Like A Lover”, “So Many Stars” and many more unforgettable bossa songs during her day as Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 ‘s vocalist. Lani left Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 in 1971, and married Herb Alpert in 1973, a marriage that is still romantic until today. After the Brasil 66 years, Lani continued to pursue her career in solo, starting with the famous 1972 “Sun Down Lady” album that followed by 14 solo projects in 3 different languages, English, Portuguese and Spanish. Just like Alpert, Lani is also awarded a Grammy award for Best Latin Pop Performance for “Es Facil Amar“, her album released in 1985.
It was like a fate when Lani Hall was also chosen to sing another James Bond theme song, just like her husband. This time it was for “Never Say Never Again”, the Bond movie that marked the return of Sean Connery as the Agent 007. The collaboration between Herb Alpert and Lani Hall has been established for many decades including their very romantic duet “Come What May” in Hall’s 1980 album, “Blush”. But with this most recent album, “Anything Goes”, this couple marked their first complete project in one album. “Anything Goes” is also the first new album Alpert has made in 10 years, after “Colors” in 1999.
“Anything Goes” is Herb Alpert and Lani Hall’s debut in Concord Records as a duo. The album is produced by themselves, and recorded from some live performance throughout the States, such as Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Fransisco and The Napa Valley Opera House. It’s a pure jazz album with a blend of sweet Brazilian bossa everywhere. Covering both beloved American Standards and some original compositions, the album appears to be as an intimate album filled with love letters between a perfect couple, both in personal and professional relationship, and the messages were sent to all the listeners in a special and heartfelt way.
Joining Herb Alpert and Lani are some of the best jazz talents you find in the jazz business. The versatile keyboardist Bill Cantos who is also gifted in writing songs also works as producer, the Sri Lanka-born senior bassist, Hussain Jiffry and prolific drummer/percussionist and producer, Michael Shapiro. All three of them are distinguished talents that have been working with many big stars from various different genres and no-stranger at all in Brazilian Latin music, the style that have been attached deeply in their heart. Without a doubt, they helped Alpert and Lani to give the best of them, letting them share their intimate connection and romance to all the fans and listeners.
The album starts with an American Standard written by George and Ira Gershwin, “Fascinating Rhythm”. This song has been living inside Lani all her life. You will start loving the album right away, from the very beginning of this first track. It’s lovely, jazz based but served in bossa layer with Lani’s voice naturally brought this song alive again in a new outfit. The next song is a fun uptempo samba, “Pàra Raio”, originally written by Djavan and included in his 1976 self-titled album. Lani once recorded this song as well on her 1981 album “A Brazileira”. As fun as the song goes originally, Lani, Alpert and the rest of the band maintains the spirit in a delightful and playful way. It’s not an easy song to sing, but Lani managed to bring it flawlessly with her fast-but-clear pronunciation that feels like she was dancing the words smoothly from the paper to life. Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin‘s “The Trolley Song” was next, led by a brilliant trumpet play of Alpert. You can easily recognize Alpert’s horn among other trumpetists, as Miles Davis himself once said “You hear 3 notes and you know it’s Herb Alpert”, and the evidence is clear in this song. It’s Alpert’s signature, something that we always love when listening to any of his past albums.
“The Old Black Magic” is another standard written by Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer in 1942. Unlike the other versions we have heard before, this time Lani and Alpert delivered it in different treatment. This song appears as a seductive, mysterious and sensual, and by doing that they brilliantly captures the provocative lyrics into the right nuance. The constant beat of Shapiro’s drums, the steady rhythm by Jiffry’s bass and the mystical piano play by Bill Cantos are supporting Lani and Alpert’s interpretation of making this song appear differently. The next song is the all-time Latin classic “Dinorah”, originally written by the legendary Ivan Lins. Something special appears in this track as it was built to meet Clare Fischer‘s “Morning”. “The two songs seem meant to be together, it’s a beautiful marriage”, says Alpert. And when you listen to the combination, you could tell that he’s right. Another Harold Arlen’s classic “It’s Only A Paper Moon” is next. This time a nice conversation between Herb and Shapiro opens up the song and continues on to be a playful interpretation that will surely delight your heart, especially by the sounds of double horn courtesy of Herb Alpert.
“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” was written by Irving Berlin in the Great Depression era, the era when a severe economic depression struck several nations including US just before the World War II. Lani and Herb looked at the lyric in an ironic way, as it gave the contrast feeling to the situation when it was written, and they decided to deliver the song in a strange and over a theatrical way, letting us feel the sense of drama from the song. Again it’s a brilliant choice that gives us a chance to feel something different from this song as we never felt before. The album continues with an original composition written by the keyboardist Bill Cantos. It’s a beautiful jazz standard with creative lyrics that definitely deserve the place in the album along with the American and Brazilian Latin standards. It’s time to have some intimacy and romance through Lerner & Loewe‘s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”. Here in this song we got the chance to hear Herb’s tender vocal and smooth trumpet solo along with minimalist backup by the band. Another Bill Cantos’ original song is next entitled “Who Are You”. This is a very beautiful ballad that will leave you breathless.
Now here comes the song that we all know so well. It’s “Besame Mucho”, the classic Latin standard by Consuelo Velasquez but serves in a totally different taste. It got a new outfit in funky, hot and pounding rendition as if it’s a brand new song. This song is very special, so special that it receives a 2010 Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental. The title track “Anything Goes” follows. This song was written by Cole Porter and brought alive again with focusing in the lyrics over a powerful vocal of Lani Hall. Another Cole Porter‘s masterpiece “I’ve Got You under My Skin” comes as the second last song on the album. It’s delivered in a gently breezed bossa style and a very special treatment by Bill Cantos as he flies across his scat on this one. The last song is David Raksin‘s “Laura”. It’s based on samba beat, but appears to be a song with complex layers full of many twists and turns. So many incarnations found in this song, but it rolls along without missing a beat. The chemistry of all the players in this song is simply amazing, something that we can only find among a group of musicians who have known each other and play together for a long time. With this stunning “Laura”, the album reaches the end.
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall’s first complete album “Anything Goes” strongly sent the message that they are still some of the force in music industry. Decades of experience and the intimate connection between them, both personal and professional have turned this album into an outstanding collection that you don’t want to miss. It’s intimate, romantic and beautifully done to let us see their love journey that has been fantastic for almost 4 decades, still keep going on, and we hope it will last forever. One of the most influential trumpet force of the century blends harmoniously with the sweet, fluid and unique voice, along with the very talented band members result in an unforgettable album to keep as a special collection. I always love the creative Herb Alpert and the sensational “tell-it-like-it-is” singing style of Lani Hall, and now with this album, I love them even more. I just hope there will be many more albums from them to come in the near future. Don’t miss this album.
1. Fascinating Rhythm (4:14)
2. Pararaio (5:47)
3. The Trolley Song (3:49)
4. That Old Black Magic (4:42)
5. Dinorah/Morning (6:29)
6. It’s Only a Paper Moon (1:56)
7. Let’s Face the Music and Dance (5:15)
8. Morning Coffee (3:25)
9. I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face (3:50)
10. Who Are You? (4:30)
11. Besame Mucho (4:44)
12. Anything Goes (3:34)
13. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (4:26)
14. Laura (5:41)
Herb Alpert : trumpet and vocals
Lani Hall : vocals
Michael Shapiro: drums and percussions
Bill Cantos : keyboards
Hussain Jiffry : Electric Bass
Herb Alpert & Lani Hall – Pàra Raio on YouTube
For more info, log on to Herb Alpert’s official website