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2009 live release from iconic trumpeter and bandleader Herb Alpert and his wife, renowned singer Lani Hall. Anything Goes is a 14 song collection of beautifully reinterpreted standards with just a hint of Brazilian cool. This is Herb's first album in 10 years and is the first time the celebrated duo have recorded a complete album together.
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The 'best of the best' begins with "Fascinating Rhythm" featuring both a sassy Hall blending with Alpert on vocals and with Alpert stretching farther out in solo than expected on muted trumpet. Djavan's "Para-raio" (Lightning Rod) finds Hall wonderfully showing off her Portuguese vocal gymnastics, with Alpert ripping off a wonderful open bell trumpet solo. "The Trolley Song", "It's Only a Paper Moon" (using open and muted bells on a unique double-bell trumpet which allows immediate switching), the closer "Laura" (in a Tijuana Brass mode), and the Grammy-nominated "Besame Mucho" find Alpert on trumpet with the trio playing with fire and humor. An unusual "Old Black Magic" has Hall and muted Alpert shifting to a minor chord and mood that effectively recasts this old Tin Pan Alley classic. Perhaps best of all is Ivan Lins' classic "Dinorah"/Morning", where Hall finds new vocal nuances in a song that has been recorded by everyone from Elis Regina to George Benson. Alpert shows off excellent chops and ideas in his solo as does pianist Cantos. "Morning Coffee" by Cantos is a pure expression of what we have always known: Lani Hall is an exceptional jazz vocalist who has sung to us over the years, through many demanding solo and group contexts, in multiple languages. "Who Are You?" (Cantos, again!) has Hall singing beautifully, recalling the days of superb gems like "Slow Hot Wind" and "So Many Stars". "Anything Goes" is wrapped in Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso": an arrangement that works surprisingly very well. This CD, which has clear, immediate sound, shows that Ms Hall and Mr Alpert are vital performers and hopefully have other musical surprises in store for us in the future. Highly Recommended. Five JAZZY Stars!!
(Trivia: The combination of Alpert's #1 "This Guy's In Love With You" (vocal) in '68 and #1 "Rise" (instrumental) in '79 set a Billboard chart first for an artist going to #1 separately as a vocalist and instrumentalist. Lani Hall and Herb Alpert are the parents of actress Aria Alpert.
This review is based on an iTunes Plus download with digital booklet and IMDB.com information.)
In 2006, I've seen the incredible husband-and-wife-musical-partners Herb Alpert and Lani Hall performed live during the 40th Anniversary Concert of Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a night to remember. The concert was made very memorable with their presence. I have always enjoyed listening to their recordings from my collection but seeing them perform live was more delightful. I was amazed at their showmanship and stage presence. And the charm of that live performance was duplicated in this latest offering, "Herb Alpert & Lani Hall Live: Anything Goes," a set of recorded live performances at various jazz venues in California (Napa Valley Opera House, Anthology, Yoshi's, Red Cat), New York (Joe's Pub), Washington D.C. (Blues Alley), Massachussetts (Scullers) and Washington (Jazz Alley).
The program begins with one of George and Ira Gershwin's most recorded songs and one of the best from all the performances, "Fascinating Rhythm." This outstanding performance which showcases Lani Hall's charming vocal is like an enticingly delectable appetizer. And the set to follow is an enjoyably sumptuous main course and the finale is a deliciously divine dessert.
While Herb Alpert is an ace of a trumpet player and one of the best musicians in the industry, Lani Hall possesses one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard in my entire musical journey.
"Lani Hall has a beautiful God-given voice that touches me deeply and we love performing together. We love melodies and Lani likes to sing life and love affirming lyrics. She can't sing a song that she doesn't feel. Her interpretation of each song is thrilling." ~ Herb Alpert ~
I echo Mr. Alpert's description of her voice and her interpretations of each song. All the performances were rendered in great taste and style. She is backed by a crew of fine musicians headed by Herb Alpert (trumpet/vocal), Mike Shapiro (drums/percussion), Bill Cantos (piano/keyboards/background vocals) and Hussain Jiffry (electric bass). The group's collaborative efforts on the arrangements are simply the result of a truly satisfying and engaging listening experience. It's like being present in all of those live concerts and being a part of the responsive and appreciative audiences.
The presentation is top-notch and attention-grabbing but I believe the crème de la crème, apart from Herb Alpert's sparkling solo performances, include "That Old Black Magic," "Let's Face The Music And Dance," "Anything Goes," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and the jazziest and swingiest "Morning Coffee," an original song composed and penned by pianist Bill Cantos.
Herb Alpert's illustrious artistry in trumpet can be best enjoyed in all-instrumental renditions of "It's Only A Paper Moon," "Laura" and "Besame Mucho" while his soft and mellow vocals can be best heard in "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face," a song he first recorded in his 1992 album, "Midnight Sun." It is one of the greatest jazz albums of all-time. His handsome treatment of Lerner and Loewe's classic is one of the most wonderful interpretations ever recorded. Here, the beauty of the song is more pronounced when he segued it impressively with a few notes of "This Guy's In Love With You." What ingenuity! I loved it!
This thing of beauty is my ears' latest enthrallment, and I hope it will be to your ears, too. Wholeheartedly recommended!