By Casey Curtis
You would be hard pressed to find a baby boomer — and especially a guy — who doesn’t have an indelible image etched in his mind of the famous cover for Herb Alpert’s album “Whipped Cream and Other Delights.” It featured a picture of a busty model wearing nothing but whipped cream couture.
The photo that graced that album combined two of life’s great pleasures — a beautiful woman and a dessert topping. There is another great pleasure out there to be had, trumpet player Herb Alpert — and you can treat yourself to his sweet music at the Cafe Carlyle through September 16th. Herb’s bouncy pop culture standards were on the inside of that great album, songs that endured for decades. e.g., The Dating Game theme song was taken from the titular piece, “Whipped Cream.”
Tuesday night in the charming environs that are the Cafe Carlyle, Herb Alpert, accompanied by his wife, singer Lani Hall, entertained for more than 90 delightful minutes. Just like the room he was in, Herb has an elegant style. He is deceptively simple in his playing. Herb never tries for trumpet pyrotechnics. Rather, he finds a relaxed but evocative interpretation of the music that enchants the listener. Lani Hall deconstructs a song so interestingly that you feel you are hearing a completely original version. When she sang Carole King’s “Up on the Roof” (famously performed by the Drifters), I hung on every word of that touching anthem of crowded city escapism.
Herb mixes in his large collection of top ten hits as playful riffs within the body of other songs. He covers a range from the Beatles “Michelle” to Brazilian sambas. As relaxing as his clean, satisfying interpretations of classics — both his own and those of other composers — were, I was most delirious at his uptempo dance club style version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The audience similarly adored it.
I grew up listening to a lot of great rock n’ roll artists. Herb Alpert was a different flavor way back when and his deliciousness has not diminished. See him now. Not because he is 82 years old, but because he is terrific.
Herb Alpert – Trumpet, Lani Hall – Vocals, Bill Cantos – Piano, Hussain Jeffrey – Bass, Michael Shapiro – Drums.
Cafe Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, Reservations: 212-744-1600. Through September 16. Performances will take place Tuesday – Friday at 8:45pm; and Saturdays at 8:45pm and 10:45pm. Weekday pricing begins at $85 per person / Bar Seating: $70 / Premium Seating: $135. Weekend pricing begins at $105 per person / Bar Seating: $80 / Premium Seating: $155. Reservations can be made by phone at 212.744.1600 or online via Ticketweb. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).