Through the years, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall have brought something special to the music world, individually and as a team.
Chicagoland music fans will have the opportunity to experience the unique talents of husband and wife Alpert and Hall when they perform Sunday at Park West in Chicago.
Alpert, the Grammy-winning trumpeter of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and co-founder, with Jerry Moss of A & M Records, and his wife Hall, Grammy-winning vocalist formerly with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, will entertain Windy City audiences with their show "An Evening with Herb Alpert and Lani Hall." They'll perform tunes from their upcoming album "Steppin' Out" and also treat fans to hit tunes from their individual careers.
"We always look forward to coming to Chicago," said Alpert, during a recent telephone conversation from the couple's California home. "It's one of my favorite cities. Architecturally, it's just stunning."
For Hall, a Chicago native, coming back to the Windy City is definitely a wonderful homecoming.
"I'm from the Northwest Side, from Kimball and Lawrence," Hall said. "When I was there it was the end of the Ravenswood L line," she said of the Albany Park neighborhood. "I lived in Chicago for the first 19 years of my life. I left Chicago when I joined Brasil '66."
And though none of her relatives live in Chicago now, Hall said it's always "home" to her.
Alpert, who was mixing the couple's upcoming album the day the interview took place, said their new project features a good mix of standards. The main appeal of the classic standards, he said, is they have strong melodies.
"We're kind of missing melodies these days. Melodies linger on and you seem to find yourself whistling a good melody now and then coming out of the blue. There might be some songs lingering around like that now but radio is kind of stingy on what they're willing to play these days," Alpert said.
For Hall, there's a certain power in music to transport people to another place. She said they're hoping to do that with their current show.
"I hope people will kind of take a break from their problems and worries and concerns and that they're taken away for awhile and bathed in beautiful music. And I hope they're touched cause that's what connects us," she said.
In addition to their concentration on music, the couple also have other artistic pursuits. Alpert is a visual artist and sculptor whose current show "in.ter.course paintings and sculptures" is appearing at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, Calif. through June 8. Hall recently penned the book "Emotional Memoirs & Short Stories." She'll have a book signing from 1 to 2:30 p.m. June 4 at Chicago's Foodease.
Hall's book (which she's penned under the name Lani Hall Alpert) is a series of fictional and non-fictional stories which has a personal narrative running throughout the work.
"I didn't expect to write so much about Chicago in this book but I found myself writing a lot about my impressions and my memories and feelings about Chicago. So Chicago has become like a main character in the book," she said.
The narrative that's placed before each story, she explained, connects them all together.
"I didn't set out to write a book," Hall said. I was just writing. I love to write and I've always written. I just would write stories and put them in my drawer and there they'd sit," she said.
Hall said Alpert is always so encouraging. "He always encourages me to use my imagination and keep writing, keep singing," she said. She admires her husband's creativity, kindness, generosity, compassion and gentle spirit.
Alpert called Hall his "soulmate" and said he enjoys sharing the stage with the "world class singer."
Looking at the music industry today, Alpert believes it's filled with many talented people but people are not "exposed" to that talent in the same way they were years ago.
"I think there are a lot of great young artists out there that have something special to say," he said.
As the co-founder of the monumental A & M Records during the '60s and '70s, Alpert was instrumental in getting the voices of acts such as Burt Bacharach, The Carpenters, Cat Stevens and many other artists heard.
"We had our finger not really on the pulse (of the industry). I was looking more for what was not on the radio," Alpert said.
Alpert's interest in music began at a young age. "I was very fortunate. When I was eight years old in my primary school here in Los Angeles they had an art appreciation class. They had a table full of instruments and I picked up the trumpet. I found that the trumpet was really speaking for me because I was very, very shy."
Through his Herb Alpert Foundation, the musician is helping young people enrich their lives. The foundation's website states "The Herb Alpert Foundation envisions a world where all young people are blessed with opportunities that allow them to reach their potential and lead productive and fulfilling lives."
Alpert said it's unfortunate many arts programs are being cut from schools these days and many children don't have the type of opportunity he had in being exposed to the arts. "I'd like to give back and do my part in helping kids finds their own identity and their own uniqueness."
The couple said it's always a joy to step on stage as a team. And there's a type of magic in the air when Alpert and Hall are in the spotlight.
"We've been married - it will be 40 years in December," Alpert said. "She's just a great artist and we make good music together."