If "This Guy's in Love with You" means anything, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall's show at the Café Carlyle offers, in Alpert's words, "music that is very déjà-vu." Performing several decades worth of their hits and American songbook classics like "Close to You," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," this couple of 39 years, go through their signature repertoire sprinkled with anecdotes and back story, backed by a first-rate band: Bill Cantos on piano, Hussain Jiffry on bass, and Michael Shapiro on drums. And because the Carlyle is such an intimate room -(I enjoyed seeing it on this week's episode of Girls) -- Alpert likes to kibitz with the audience, asking for questions -- this is the ultimate in interactive, with one caveat, no requests. But that didn't stop first-nighters, including Regis and Joy Philbin and producer Tommy LiPuma and a fan all the way from Korea among them, from shouting out favorites anyway. "Rise," yelled one enthusiast, and they did.
On meeting Karen and Richard Carpenter, Alpert said that as a classically trained musician who favors jazz, this would not be his first choice in genre. But he was blown away by Karen's voice: "They seemed very sincere." "A Taste of Honey" got Alpert and his Tijuana brass to the Ed Sullivan Show. Of course, there were tales of A&M records; Alpert co-founded in 1962 with Jerry Moss. His philanthropy is as legendary as his music career, and next week Harlem School of the Arts will name a building The Herb Alpert Center.
Lani Hall is a formidable vocalist: her rendition of "Bessame Mucho" came with the tale of 20-year-old Consuelo Velasquez who wrote it before she had ever been kissed. Hall sang "Smile," "Old Black Magic," "Fly Me to the Moon," and other songs with Alpert occasionally stepping in to join her. As she performed some tricky scat in Spanish, she playfully wondered why the audience was not singing along. How do you close a great night of nostalgia? With a medley of Antonio Carlos Jobim.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.