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Herb Alpert & Lani Hall: Together Again for the First Time

Christopher Loudon interviews couple about their latest album and their shared appreciation for Brazilian music

Herb Alpert at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas 2000
Herb Alpert & Lani Hall

Among the great music industry overachievers, there was Johnny Mercer and there is Herb Alpert. Like Mercer, Alpert has succeeded as performer, indie label entrepreneur and songwriter. In the 1960s, only The Beatles and Elvis earned greater album sales than Alpert’s Tijuana Brass. The talent roster at his A&M Records (co-founded with Jerry Moss in 1962) extended from the TJB, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Cat Stevens and The Carpenters to Liza Minnelli, Janet Jackson and The Police. As a songwriter, his early pop hits include Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World,” Jan and Dean’s “Baby Talk,” the novelty smash “Alley-Oop” and the TJB’s debut success “The Lonely Bull.” Alpert, widely acknowledged as one of the foremost trumpeters of his era, also scored as a vocalist, bumping Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” out of the number one spot with his hazy rendition of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “This Guy’s In Love With You” in the summer of 1968. But Alpert’s skills extend well beyond Mercer’s. He is also a gifted arranger, producer, painter and sculptor, and, via his Herb Alpert Foundation, he ranks among the most generous philanthropists in the history of American show business.

Alpert, a native Californian, first met Chicago-born vocalist Lani Hall in 1966 when he signed Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 to A&M. The year prior, Hall had replaced Wanda de Sah as the group’s lead singer. During her five-year tenure with Mendes, Hall helped shape such landmark hits as “Mas Que Nada,” “The Fool on the Hill” and “Day Tripper.” In 1972, she embarked on a solo career, delivering 14 albums in English, Spanish and Portuguese, including 1985’s Es Facil Amar which earned her a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance. In 2008, Hall briefly reunited with Mendes, performing “Dreamer” on his album Encanto. Like her husband, she is an accomplished producer.

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