So here it is another weekend! I’m gearing up to open our home to my cousins, coming down from the Bay Area for a family wedding and I had to remind them to expect Southern California to be just a little bit warmer than what they are experiencing in San Francisco.
It’s hot! Really hot! However, I am certain that if I took the time to see what I shared last September, heat and humidity would have been all over those posts, too. Typically we get the worst of the so-called summer heat in early autumn, so this current heat wave isn’t too surprising.
But what we do have going for us are fantastic summer evenings. Blazing daylight hours turn to easy cool at night. And one of my favorite ways to spend a summer night is relaxing under the stars while at the Hollywood Bowl. I enjoy it all.
My eclectic musical tastes may have been heavily influenced by the artists I listened to as a young person. My little aqua blue transistor radio rarely left my side.
And looking back to the List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of 1966, the year I entered high school, reminds me that the songs most played included “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, “We Can Work it Out,” by the Beatles, “Paint it Black,” by the Stones, and “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra.
Frank Sinatra? Yes, and daughter Nancy had a #1 that year, too–an eclectic assemblage, don’t you think? The era’s music was good, plentiful, and featured artists with diverse musical backgrounds and histories. I suppose I had favorites, but because I enjoyed it all, my “favorites” moved up and down the list.
One artist that broke through during that time was a new-to-America performer, Sérgio Mendes. I adored the easy mix of Brazilian bossa nova–samba–Latin jazz-what was that new sound? And to better connect to a young American audience, Mendes featured music from the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, as well as Cole Porter and Bacharach, just mixed with a spicy Latin beat.
One of the distinctions of this Brazilian sound was the beautiful voice of a young American singer, Lani Hall, who may be more familiar to you for her rendition of the theme song from the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again.“
Then there is Lani’s husband of 39 years, Herb Alpert, trumpeter and music entrepreneur. Although Alpert is probably most clearly recognized for his association with TJB–Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, he is also responsible, along with Jerry Moss, for founding A&M Records, which throughout the 60′s and 70′s signed Cat Stevens, Billy Preston, Quincy Jones, Joan Baez, Captain and Tennille, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, and yes, Sérgio Mendes…recognizable names?
Each of these three seasoned artists has enjoyed varied and successful music and business careers yet they continue to create fresh sounds. Mendes released the CD “Timeless” in 2006, partnering with will i. am as producer, featuring John Legend, Erykah Badu, and the Black Eyed Peas, assuring his distinctive sound remains current and relevant–not bad for a guy who started his career more than 50 years ago.
To see a pretty snazzy version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Alpert and Hall…click HERE. Don’t miss Herb as the bus driver!
The enthusiastic audience was remarkably mixed-age and appreciative of the body of work represented by each of these artists. Alpert and Hall performed the first set up to intermission, and Mendes came in for the second, pulling Hall back in to sing from the Brasil ’66 songbook that first introduced her as a recording artist.
Yes, I’m enthusiastic. I could go to the Bowl every week during the summer and not lose my enthusiasm. And so next post I’ll share another one of our concerts–distinctively different from Brazilian Jazz.
Just for fun, I’ve added a video I think you’ll really enjoy. That is if you like stories about talent discovered in the most unlikely of opportunities.
At the recent Bowl concert featuring Kristin Chenoweth, the talented and personable artist invited an audience member to come up and sing with her. I’ll let the video tell the story. Skip the ad and enjoy!