Arts » Pop Music & Jazz

Polished brass: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall bring their craft to SF

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Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, who appear at the Palace of Fine Arts on Tuesday, love to keep their music loose, with an improvisational hook.

The title of their most recent CD — “I Feel You” on Concord Jazz — says it all.

“It’s the feeling of not being afraid to make a mistake,” says Alpert. “If you are too cautious and you’re trying to make everything perfect, it’s going to sound that way. We kind of like to let it fly and see what happens.”

That brand of freedom only works with trust built over time, and this husband-and-wife team has been collaborating professionally for 45 years.

The only longer-term relationship for Alpert is his affair with brass that generated hits like “The Lonely Bull,” “Casino Royale” and “Rise.”

“I started playing when I was 8,” he says. “I was fortunate to have music classes in my grammar school. They had a bunch of instruments on a table and I picked up the trumpet. I was very shy, super shy, and when I made some noise on the trumpet it kind of was speaking for me. It just had my name on it.”

Much as he loved the horn, the idea of an acting career did briefly distract him. “It was kind of a folly. I was working at a gym and some guy said I looked like I should be in the movies, so I said, ‘OK. Put me in!’” he says with a laugh. “I started studying acting. In fact I studied with Leonard Nimoy. This was before ‘Star Trek.’ At some point I realized I didn’t have the passion for it, but I enjoyed the experience.”

He met Hall, who was lead singer for Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66, in 1966 when the group auditioned for Alpert’s A&M record label. They married in 1974 and have successfully managed joint and solo careers ever since.

“The music we’ve been doing for the last three years are songs we’ve been collecting for that proverbial rainy day,” says Hall. “The day came and we went to the list and started rehearsing all these great songs that we felt a vibration with. For me it was almost coming full circle because these are the songs I learned as a girl singing along with the albums by folks like Judy Garland, June Christy and Anita O’Day.”

The goal, however, was not to just rerecord some beloved tunes.

“We spent a lot of time arranging them so that they didn’t sound just the way most people would remember them,” Hall says. “That was very challenging, but that’s where you can make a song your own.”

IF YOU GO

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

Where: Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $57.50
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.apeconcerts.com