Herb Alpert

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Herb Alpert Pencil Portrait
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The quality of the prints are at a much higher level compared to the image shown on the left.


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“Herb Alpert Is,” the 2020 documentary film directed by John Scheinfeld, celebrates the life and career of the legendary trumpeter and music mogul. This unassuming 86 year old man, still performing in concert with his wife Lani Hall, is the fourth richest musician in the world.

“I’ll tell you, my wife and I’ve been doing live concerts for the last 12, 13 years, and I’m amazed at how many young folks are in our audience. I thought it was going to be the blue haired set that was going to want to hear the music and see me and my group with my wife, Lani, but no, it’s not all that. So yeah, I know there’s a lot of people that don’t know me from Adam, but that’s okay. Let the music speak. The music, if you take it in… I think people will get it.”

“I always go with the adage that Satchel Paige said years ago. He said, ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’” Honest and rational in his self-assessment as ever, he shaves just a couple of decades off his physical age in pinpointing his inner youthful sagacity: “I feel like I’m 63.”

Despute his undoubted commercial success with his Tijuana Brass Band in the 60’s and 70’s, his immense wealth is largely attributable to his acute business acumen. Along with Jerry Moss, he founded A&M Records, an American record label launched as an independent company in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK. Throughout its operations, A&M housed well-known acts such as Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Elkie Brooks, Carole King, Styx, Dennis DeYoung, Extreme, Amy Grant, Joan Baez, The Police, Jann Arden, CeCe Peniston, Shanice, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, Duffy, Phil Ochs and Sheryl Crow. PolyGram was acquired by Seagram and dissolved into Universal Music Group in 1998, and A&M’s operations were ceased in January 1999 when it was merged with Geffen Records and Interscope Records to form the record company Interscope Geffen A&M Records. In 2007, Interscope Geffen A&M announced that A&M was revived as trademark and brand and was to be merged with Octone Records to form A&M Octone Records, which operated until 2013, when A&M Octone was folded into Interscope. Today, A&M’s catalog releases are managed by Verve Records, Universal Music Enterprises and Interscope.

The challenge in pulling off a documentary about someone who’s been in the limelight for close to six decades, but whose music is not necessarily at the forefront of contemporary pop consciousness, is that it needs to super-serve the longtime fan and also provide sufficient backstory to act as an introduction for those who come in without knowing much history — although Alpert believes that the music itself tells enough of his tale.

Visitors to my website are advised to check out the film’s accompanying soundtrack album “Herb Alpert IS”, a 3 CD retrospective box set which combines recordings from those legendary 60’s instrumental hits with The Tijuana Brass all the way to various successes in the ’70s and ’80s through today. Available on either three CDs or five LPs, the set comes with a deluxe 180-page booklet featuring photos, credits and an extensive essay by critic Bud Scoppa – all packaged in a custom-designed slipcase with a “screen-printed, smoked acrylic window.”

Throughout the last six decades, Alpert kept recording, scoring another chart-topper with the disco instrumental “Rise” in 1979. His last major Top 5 hit was 1987’s “Diamonds,” a duet with Janet Jackson, A&M’s newest star at the time (with writing and production from longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.)

After years of independence, he and Moss sold A&M to Polygram in 1987 for a reported $500 million; since then, the duo created another label, Almo Sounds, which became Alpert’s recording home for several years. He continues to record and tour, often alongside Brasil ’66 singer Lani Hall – his wife since 1973 – and also devotes time to sculpture and donating a significant portion of his fortune to music education programs, including UCLA and CalArts. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Moss in 2006, Alpert continues to add trophies to his collection, including two big ones in 2013: a National Medal of the Arts and his eighth career Grammy Award for the album Steppin’ Out.