| This Guy’s In Love With You by Herb Alpert | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
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With names like Guardian Spirit, Eagle, and Ancient Source, they rise from stone-walled gardens and jutting promontories. Several hang in the living room. Several more line the halls. He is lean and fit, his age betrayed only by thinning hair in back and a scruffy gray beard. After flicking on a small oven, he inserts a metal tray that holds a hard sheet of wax.
Although his sculptures can reach 18 feet in height, they start as four- to eight-inch maquettes. As Alpert waits for the wax to become soft enough to shape into one of these miniatures, he downs a glass of NanoGreens, a cloyingly sweet diet supplement fortified with sufficient algae and barley grass powder to stock a health food store.
Then for 30 minutes he loses himself in his task, laboring less by design than touch. I fool with it until I get a good feeling. Lani and I were going to do an album with him—he would sing in English, Lani in Portuguese—but he passed away.
Yet as he goes about his business, he betrays no sense of pressure or anxiety. Alpert has been working on a new piece for a couple of weeks—a few minutes one morning, a few more the next.
On this day he is back at it. An hour later Alpert walks to a service porch, climbs into a golf cart, and rolls away. He steers along a twisting path that leads to a high-ceilinged, hangarlike structure large enough to accommodate four forklifts and several sculptures in progress. The center of attention is a looming foot-tall monolith.
In a few days workers will make a mold, which after it sets will be removed and trucked to an Eastside foundry. As the sun dapples down on this fall afternoon, one week before Alpert must let go of I Feel You for mastering and production, he revisits his recording studio. At a large table topped with electronic equipment and two Macs powered by Logic software, he listens to the numbers. He keeps time by slapping his hand on the back of a nearby chair.
Glancing at the monitors, whose oscillating waves track surging notes, Alpert shakes his head in wonder. Still, the goal for him is the same as ever—to express genuine emotion. The artists he most admires are those who trust their guts. Alpert recalls asking Getz, a master of bebop, for instruction in its basic two-five-one chord sequence. Everything he did was intuitive.
Herb Alpert: Always in Tune
Nothing brings out his doubts more than the imminent completion of a project. With a few keystrokes he changes the piano track, believing that he is enhancing the entire recording as well as the performance of the vocalist—his wife. No sooner does he finish than she walks in. Dressed in black from head to toe, pale oval face set off by reddish blond ringlets that accentuate a warm yet assertive smile, Lani Hall is every bit the musician her husband is.
After a beat, he offers the answer: They share a creative vision. When he gets off course, she brings him back. She can be brutally honest, and she demands that Herb live up to high standards. His mother played the violin, his father the mandolin, his brother the drums, and his sister the piano.
He was eight when he picked up a trumpet from a table stacked with instruments at Melrose Elementary School. His mom and dad, however, were determined to see him master it. He fronted a band called the Colonial Trio. After winning the KTLA competition show High Talent Battle for several weeks running, his group began picking up wedding and bar mitzvah gigs. He enrolled at USC as a music major, but after two years he dropped out.
posavski-obzor.info: Vintage photo of Herb Alpert and Sharon Mae Lubin.: Entertainment Collectibles
Alpert grew comfortable playing anywhere, including at funerals. At the same time the military forced Alpert to face his limitations. We matched up immediately. That was how we got our feet wet in the music business. Cooke urged him to value true sentiment over all else. Sam asked me what I thought.
To him, it never mattered how an artist looked. Soon afterward, Alpert, Adler, and disc jockey B. Mitchell Reed started a music production company called HerBLou. Although Reed was outgoing, Alpert and Adler seemed unlikely industry operators. At 25 Alpert was becoming a macher, but he felt unfulfilled.
He liked being a producer, but he also wanted to be a performer. The partnership split up. Those were our only real assets. Alpert tried his hand at a singing career. None made the charts, and Alpert hated the experience: With striking good looks—jet-black hair, darting brown eyes, and a delicately tapered nose—he tried acting. Music, he realized, was his love.
- Herb Alpert and his wife Sharon Mae Lubin.
- Herb Alpert and Sharon Mae Lubin
His playing suggested Clifford Brown with a little Louis Armstrong thrown in. It was during this time that Alpert and young music executive Jerry Moss, then with Scepter Records, started driving to Tijuana to attend bullfights. I was curious to see if I could capture that feeling on a record. I wanted to channel that energy. Finally the trumpet was no longer just a piece of plumbing. Indeed, he was not even aware of it as a tangible thing. By this time we were really good friends.
It failed to sign the Beatles. Many other labels did, too, Alpert says. Although awkward and raspy, Sullivan had introduced the country to some of its biggest acts—among them Elvis Presley—and he took the role of national tastemaker seriously. The Brass was already on its way. The craftsmanship is such that a simple theme turns out to be anything but.
Have a look at the clip from the CBS special, which you could easily argue amounts to a proto music video. He talks about growing up in California, and the fact that he has his home there. If the slick production makes it sound like a commercial, maybe it is. The final shot depicts a kiss on a beach at sunset: After The Beat of the Brass was broadcast in late April, a clamor arose for the song to be released as a single.
After its success as a summer single, it appeared on the next Tijuana Brass album, also titled The Beat of the Brass. More recently, the song has become a kind of winking signifier, not quite camp but something close. Alpert was hardly defined by his most visible turn in the hit parade: Could it become a surprise hit, during our own summer of madness?
That outcome is unlikely, but as Alpert could attest, you never know. Listen to the complete top ten from the summer of on Spotify. A Life in Music. Chinen is working on another book now, about jazz in our time. Published June 23, Learn More Related Features.