It took 30 years of marriage before Herb Alpert and Lani Hall got around to recording together. But now that the trumpet great and the Brasil ‘66 lead singer have collaborated, they show no signs of stopping. The couple has been getting raves for their live performances, as well as advance response to their sexy, sophisticated “Anything Goes” album, to be released by Concord this summer.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” says Herb. “We weren’t sure whether people would be yelling out for Tijuana Brass songs from the past, but that hasn’t happened. They’re accepting the new music because it’s from a real place.”
They reveal that they’ll launch a tour of the Eastern Seaboard this fall, and other performing plans are in the works.
“It took this long for us to come full circle, with the idea of doing jazz, and the idea of doing it together,” says Lani.
They have a handful of California dates this Spring – and will also treat the audience at the May 18 Ella Awards to five or six songs, they report. Herb and Lani are the 18th Ella Award recipients, joining the ranks of such notables as Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald herself in being honored by the Society of Singers at its annual gala event (a fundraiser for the SOS relief and scholarship funds) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Alpert-Hall tribute will also feature Alan Bergman, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., Renee Olstead, Steve Tyrell, Tata Vega and Paul Williams.
Alpert admits, “We were hemming and hawing for awhile” when told of the award. “I’m a one-hit vocal wonder. I’m not a singer. Lani is the singer. I’m not sure I totally qualify,” explains the seven-time Grammy winner, 75 million album seller, patron of the arts and education, and long-time music industry titan. ‘Course that one hit – “This Guy’s In Love with You” – remains a classic.
Fascinatingly, Alpert was at the height of his initial career when he called together the members of the Tijuana Brass and informed them that it was over; he couldn’t play anymore. He was frozen. And for years, the horn remained silent while he focused on his work as the co-owner of A&M Records. He couldn’t be sounding better now, as “Anything Goes” clearly attests.
GOING, GOING GONE: What’s it like to ride a hit? The title of Day26’s new album, “Forever in a Day,” could also refer to the band’s jam-packed schedule as of late. Willie Taylor tells us, “We were just complaining to our manager that we need some sort of sleep. There is definitely no sleep involved this time around. It’s quite hectic. On average, we’re getting up at about 4:30-5 a.m., going to a radio station, doing a show, doing a meet-and-greet that ends about noon. And mind you, we haven’t eaten yet.” Evenings? “They don’t get any better,” he says. “We’re just always constantly on the go.”
However, with their hit sophomore album – No 1 on iTunes’ R&B/Soul chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200 — he says he really wouldn’t change a thing. “It’s definitely a blessing, a dream come true. The schedule means it’s all working.”
With his group having been formed in ’07 by Sean “Puffy” Combs on MTV’s “Making the Band 4,” Taylor says, “I’ve learned a whole lot from Puff. From this whole experience, I’ve learned to be more of a businessman, to be more business-minded. Like, I’m venturing off, doing my own record company. I’ve seen the way he does business, the way he treats his artists. I’m definitely stealing a couple of pointers and running with them.”
But first, he’s running with his four bandmates. “We’re kicking off a tour the sixth of May. It’s only two weeks now, but we’re looking to extend it. We’d love to go out with another tour this summer.”
THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: Gerald McRaney joins Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and the rest of company on Lucasfilm’s “Red Tails” on May 2 in Prague. He’s taking on the role of the general who assigns the Tuskegee Airmen the task of escorting bombers over Nazi-held territory in the picture being directed by Anthony Hemingway from John Ridley’s screenplay – and he has Hemingway to thank. The filmmaker was second to the second [sic] assistant director on McRaney’s “Promised Land” series back in the 1996, and the actor remembers telling people, “Some day I’m going to be working for this guy.” A prescient comment, it turns out. Hemingway thought immediately of McRaney when it came time to fill the role of the no-nonsense military man who issues commands to the all-black 332nd Fighter Group based on its accomplishments, despite racist naysayers.
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Cassidy Freeman – bad girl Tess Mercer on “Smallville” – tells us to watch out for the final two episodes of that CW series’ eighth season, airing May 7 and 14. “They were pretty challenging to shoot, like anything at the end of a season. They’re effects-heavy,” she tells us. The real cliffhanger, of course, is going on off-screen. As Cassidy notes, “We’re waiting to see whether there’ll be a Season 9.”
With reports by Emily Feimster.