Legendary trumpeter, Herb Alpert made his long awaited return to Northeastern Ohio.  Alpert, his wife Lani Hall and his great three-piece band entertained a sold-out Kent Stage audience on Wednesday night.

Alpert, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee for being the A in A&M Records, opened the show with “What Now My Love” and a nice cover of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” that featured Lani Hall on vocals.  After four songs, the affable Alpert spoke to the crowd and asked if anyone had seen him the last time he came to town.  A few audience members responded, leading him to say “That’s pretty impressive, because it’s been forty years!”

It is hard to believe that Alpert has not played in Ohio since the late 1970s. The 82 year old remembered playing at Blossom Music Center and earlier in the day playing a round at Firestone Country Club.  Although he said he missed the ball while he was on the first tee, a local TV crew was there to film him and they zoomed in on his divit.  Golf was not his thing.

Early in the set, he played his number one hit “Rise” which turned into a medley of hits that included “Whipped Cream,” The Lonely Bull,” “Casino Royale” “Tijuana Taxi” and “A Taste of Honey.”  A large video screen showed images from the infamous Whipped Cream album cover and some vintage video footage of Alpert from that time period.

The video screens also displayed some of Alpert’s paintings.  He noted that he has been painting for several decades and he likes to work with acrylic on canvas.  The paintings were a great backdrop for the music.

A couple of times during the show, Alpert opened it up for questions from the audience.  He said “We don’t take requests but if you have a question, I’ll try to answer it.”  Many things were asked such as how did he get to work with the Carpenters and did he miss working at A&M Records?  The answer to the latter question was “No!”  and the answer to the former was that someone had slipped a tape under his office door and when he played it, he thought the girl had  “an interesting voice.”  It ended up being Karen Carpenter and he signed them to his label.

This exchange segued into his other number one hit “This Guy’s In Love With You” which turned into a big sing-a-long per the request of the man himself.  It was one of the many highlights of the show.

Loni Hall got to take the spotlight as she sang a medley of songs from her time with Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66.

A couple of Beatles covers including “Something” which Alpert called one of the best love songs ever written and “Michelle” were played in succession.

Alpert recently released a new CD titled Music, Vol. 1 and made a “happy, upbeat” video for “I’m Yours” which is a jazzy version of the Jason Mraz hit song.  It was released four months ago and it already has over 800,000 views.  Check it out, it will make you smile.

The set closed with the standards “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Putin’ On The Ritz.”  The band remained on stage for the encore which consisted of a medley of Antonio Carlos Jobim covers which ended with “One Note Samba.”

It was a very fun and entertaining evening of cool jazz music where all of those in attendance were “in the moment” with a legend.

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Greg Drugan has been attending concerts since 1982 and has seen everyone from AC/DC to ZZ Top. Classic rock is his forte, but he is also well versed in alternative and pop music. When not attending concerts, Greg can be found teaching history, psychology and the history of rock n roll at a rural high school where he also serves as the head track coach. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with his family.