Herb Alpert's thoughts on A&M Records, the music industry, musicians, and life, as well as his painting and sculpture.

See Herb Alpert for his musical career. The biography features career highlights, official biographies from A&M Records....peak chart positions for the album and its singles, official biographies, press releases, and promotional photos. Plus original recording formats, tour information. Search every song written by Herb Alpert; compilation albums with his tracks; Alpert's guest appearances on other artists' recordings, and records he produced for other artists.

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Jerry [Moss] was, and still is, a very charming guy. He's not a musician, but he listens like one. He closes his eyes and gets that vicarious look in his eyes like he's playing. We pooled our resources and we've been partners ever since.1


Kentucky Derby Winner's Circle 2005 with Giacomo's trainer John Sheriffs, jockey Mike Smith and owners Jerry and Ann Moss. Photo by Ed Reinke/AP

And the beautiful part of the whole company was that it was started on a handshake. My partner, Jerry Moss, and I had a handshake on our deal, and that was it. There was no contract signed, no nothing until we sold the company many years later. That was the first time we ever signed anything. I was very fortunate to have a partner like Jerry Moss.

There were a couple of times when we'd disagree. But that was OK. We were always friends, and we were always upfront with each other. And there was nothing that could have caved us in because we both loved the business and loved making great records and giving people something for the money that they were putting out.2

1. Herb Alpert Albums Remastered and Reissued, Rarities Revisited and Released. Gillian G. Garr, Discoveries, January 2006.
2. A Conversation with Herb Alpert. Michael Fagien. Jazziz, August 2009, 17.

2009 Breeders Cup Winner's Circle with Zenyatta, jockey Mike Smith, groom Mario, Ann Moss, trainer John Sheriffs and Jerry Moss


If I ever have [a record company] it will give more importance to the artist, because the whole thing centers on the artist.1

Jerry and I started A&M in my garage in '62. We tried to make records we would buy ourselves and pick out artists that we had a feeling for. We weren't really thinking in terms of hitting the middle of the bullseye because most of the time we were looking for what was not on the radio. We thought, little by little, the audience would get used to our records if they were made with the right integrity, which we tried to do, and packaged appropriately. We knew, if a record was good, eventually there would be an audience for it.2

The idea of A&M was to make every record, all 12 tunes count. We didn't want the customer to end up buying just the hit and have 11 throwaway songs as a bonus. We wanted to give people their money's worth.3

The real motor of this company is in the basic trust that Jerry, Gil and I have for each other, and the trust that artists have for us. They say they're more comfortable and more inspired because our people care about what they're doing.4

1. Alpert: the Thrill Is Back!
2. Horn of Plenty. Joe Medwick. HITS, November 23, 1992.
3. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.
4. On Becoming a Leader. Warren Bennis. Addison-Wesley, 1989.


We've always tried to make the environment right for the artist to do what they have to do, and if you try to do that with too many restrictions, you don't really get the best results. But I've always been surrounded by a tremendous group of people that make me look good. I certainly can't do it alone. I'm not a businessman by background, so I don't have that expertise or that desire to get into the everyday workings of the company. But I was very fortunate in being able to follow my bliss and nourish my spirit by doing the music that was coming out of me. And to have a partner like Jerry Moss, who understood that was the best thing for me. It allowed us to gradually surround ourselves with people who were sensitive to what we started. And it's been a beautiful trip.

Jerry and I formed this label on a handshake. We admire and respect each other, and people that work with us feel that as well. That's been the key. If you treat people with kindness and respect it just comes back to you.

It doesn't surprise me that this company has been so successful. If I was to explore that side of it, the formula seems rather easy. Of course, luck plays a part in it, too. And timing. To be at the right place at the right time and to be prepared when you get there.1

We always felt like if we had something special and treated people fairly, it would come back to us. We could smile and sleep well at night and we'd be very successful. That's what happened.2

The thing that keeps coming up to me is the idea that out of a piece of brass came a song, 'The Lonely Bull': and that Jerry and I got together and released a record, and how it has touched thousands upon thousands of people's lives. Not only the people that work for us, left us, married and divorced, distributors, offshoots of that: it just spools out, you know, incredibly long.

I mean, I'm a musician, and I think about music. I wake up and dream about it. It's in my head. And Jerry was able to take that record and really turn it into what we have today.3

1. Horn of Plenty. Joe Medwick. HITS, November 23, 1992.
2. Herb Alpert Tries a Taste of Symphonic Music. Richard Warner. Atlanta Constitution-Journal, July 1, 1988.
3. A&M Records press release for Under a Spanish Moon album, 1988.


We were not concerned with the beat of the week. Some of the best records we ever made were not necessarily the ones that were the most successful...The Flying Burrito Brothers, Joan Armatrading, David + David...We could name so many.1

If I had to start out today, I wouldn't make it. Radio is not the same as it used to be when I started in the business. Music is not the same. Labels are not the same. At A&M we were all about letting the artists make music how they wanted to make it. I don't know if that's even part of the business anymore these days. One of the things I'm very blessed with in my career is timing. I was in the right place at the right time, and bingo!2

1. 6 Questions with Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss. Brian Garrity. Billboard, February 24, 2007.
2. Alpert Thrives After 50 Years of Hit-Making. Miriam Di Nunzio. Chicago Sun-Times, June 9, 2011.


We used some of our profits to build a custom studio. Anyone was welcome to use it, and a lot of artists recorded there. Elvis Presley did some of his movie soundtrack albums there. I never went to the sessions myself. I don't want people to feel like I'm eavesdropping or trying to cop their songs, so I purposely stay out of the studio if it's an outside client, unless I'm invited in. We try to make it as comfortable for the artist as possible, so they don't have to wade through a bunch of people gaping at them.1

1. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.
A&M Studios History


I want my employees to see me as an average guy who loves music. I think of myself as a musician primarily. I use my body as a barometer. If the music moves me and I can feel it, my musical instincts instantly tell me what a record executive must know.

My main asset as an executive is, any of our artists can come into my office and sit down and discuss music. I know their feelings and frustrations. At some point in my career I probably experience what they're going through.1

My viewpoint from the record company is [to make decisions from the gut]. I choose not to get too involved into reading all the trades and seeing what all the research tells you and what the trends are. I think that bogs you down. And the only way I can operate is if I hear a group I like, I like them. I don't know why. If I hear a song I like, that's it.2

1. Alpert: Top Brass in the Music Industry. Craig Modderno. USA Today, 1984.
2. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.

A&M Records staff celebrating A&M's 25th anniversary in June 1987


It's important that either myself or Jerry or the A&R team feel strongly about something if we're going to sign it. People are looking for realness, we're looking for honesty in our politicians, our parents, our friends and our music.1

We try to find people who deserve to be supported, and when we find them we put our total faith in them, get behind them for however long it takes to properly project them to the public.

I was never very enamored by the flash-in-the-pan quick-hit-record system. What substitute is that for nurturing an artist, seeing him grow?

So we have had competitions from companies which dangle large sums of money in front of artists-but I like to think that A&M offers more than dollars and cents.2

The real instrument is always the person who is playing. True artists are the people who are willing to express their emotions. There are many players with talent, but they're too afraid. You can't be controlled and be an artist at the same time.3

One of the keys to dealing with artists is to be sensitive to their feelings and their needs, to give them their day in court so they can air their grievances or their brilliant ideas.4

There are lots of frightened artists today who are trying to respond to trends. They're too cautious, and they don't have the fresh air to express themselves. Many record companies analyze and use demographics to make music, but a lot of original ideas don't come out that way.5

1. Brass or No, Herb Alpert Keeps Making Things Happen in the Music Business. Sean Piccoli. News-Times Music News, May 8, 1977.
2. Alpert: the Thrill Is Back!
3. Bullish Tour Book, 1984.
4. On Becoming a Leader. Warren Bennis. Addison-Wesley, 1989.
5. A&M Records press release for Beyond album, June 1980.

A&M Archives at UCLA Library


I'm a right-brain animal. I'm not a businessman in the traditional sense. And I do a lot of buckshotting and I rely on my gut reaction. When my shoulders feel tight, I know something is off. I use my body as a barometer.I try to listen like a piece of Silly Putty when someone plays me a song. I try to let my biases just blow in the breeze. For the most part, I'm listening for the feeling.1

1. On Becoming a Leader. Warren Bennis. Addison-Wesley, 1989.


We got this idea to sort of fuse these two forms of music together, the mariachi sound with sort of an American jazz pulsation underneath. Of course, since 1962 it sort of evolved itself into little different forms still within the framework of that idea...We're sort of concerned with trying to be fresh and original and trying to keep coming up with new ideas and new approaches to instrumental music.1

I don't want just one sound. I don't really know what the sound of the group is, and I don't want to know. I use tunes that I like and then I try to find ways to arrange them that please me. I never think of the sound as being this or that. It's always changing.2

When I play that second or third part, I'm like another person interpreting the song all over again. Also, in the old days, I would play the first part and then detune my instrument a bit, so the characteristics would change and it wouldn't sound like a direct unison. But in tune or out of tune, I'm just going for the feel all of the time.3

We use a piano, but I use it differently than a regular piano. I use it as a rhythm instrument. It's playing almost like a guitar would be playing.1

1. WHN Spectacular radio show 1966.
2. Ole! Here Comes the Tijuana Brass! John S. Wilson. New York Times, September 18, 1966.
3. Alpert Created New Album for Under- and Over-35s. Larry Kart. Knight News Service, 1982.


It's [Tijuana Brass music] a wild, happy sound, like the Mariachis. It's good-natured and full of humor. It's not a protest and not a put-down. I think people were bugged with hearing music which had an undercurrent of unhappiness and anger, even sadis. But our music you can get with in a hurry, tap your feet and hum along.1

1. Record Man of the Year. Billboard International Record Talent Directory 1967.


After The Lonely Bull there was a bit of a lull. The second album, Volume 2, sold fairly well just on the West Coast. I got the feeling that most people were starting to write us off. It was just, 'That was it for that band.' But I kept working on the sound; I kept trying to hone it and zero in on the feeling because I thought there was something interesting about it.

When I was recording the South of the Border album, there was a song called Mexican Shuffle. Mexican Shuffle had something special I thought. I got a call from the Clark Teaberry Gum Company, the ad agency that handles their account, and they wanted to use the Mexican Shuffle as their centerpiece theme song. So I did an arrangement of it for them and we got a lot of national attention with that Mexican Shuffle.1

The Tijuana Brass was originally just a studio group I put together. It was a record producer putting it together with my horn, rather than a trumpet player looking for a producer to put a tapestry behind me.2

[One of the running jokes during our concerts was to say] We're four salamis, two bagels and an American cheese.3

I had no idea we would have the amount of success we had with the Tijuana Brass...When we first started traveling, one of our first concerts was at M.I.T. University. We were playing Hello Dolly and in the last chorus of Hello Dolly it changes keys. It goes up a half step and it plays Hello Dolly again, you know, like in Dixieland. Well, man, everyone in the audience stood up and started cheering. I didn't know what happened. I couldn't believe it was getting that type of attention.1

There's a lot of humility and humor in the music and it's possible that, well, when things really started going well for us was during the time of all the protest records, and maybe when we came along it was, 'Well, gee whiz, let's have a good time and listen to some music.'

It's quite a feeling to go into a town and see standing room only and people cheering and then coming backstage and saying how much they enjoy the music and how much you've picked up their life. For instance, there was a fellow who came up to me in Seattle and he had to be about 90, and he took me by the arm and said, 'Son, your music really makes me happy.' That sent a chill up me. Well, gee whiz, it's fun to do something like that.4

1. Star Track Profile 87-24, June 8, 1982.
2. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.
3. Small Band, Big Sound, the Tijuana Brass. Betty Rollin. Look, June 14, 1966.
4. WHN Spectacular radio show 1966.
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass Report
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass Gallery


I was intrigued by the technique of overdubbing and I started doing that with my trumpet in the studio in my home. My studio, I mean it was a wire recorder. But I was just able to check out that sound and there was something there for me. It felt like I was on to something.1

There were quite a few singers who were experimenting with overdubbing their own voice on top of their voice, singing harmony, singing background or whatever it was. So I started doing this with the trumpet. And I noticed when I started detuning the instrument by pulling the slide out a little bit to make it a little flatter sometimes make it a little sharper I would get this odd modulation, this odd quality. That was the sound I was pursuing. Essentially that's the sound of the Tijuana Brass.2

I can take any tune, take anyone's tracks, and record the Brass over it, and make it sound like the Tijuana Brass.3

1. Midnight Special Salute to Herb Alpert television show 1978.
2. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.
3. Drummer Boy with a Horn, 1968.


The trumpet is one of those instruments where you can't cover up a mistake--it could be one of the reasons I chose it. But the horn has been an incredible friend to me over the years too. It's been my barometer. It reflects how I am feeling.

There was a time when the trumpet was not speaking, I was blaming it on the mouthpiece, the valve system, trying to blame it on everything but where the problem really lay. Which was, I wasn't feeling good. Then I realized I had to iron some things out before the horn was going to speak as a friend.

That's what I love about being a musician. When you're not getting what you want, you gotta look inward.1

My lip was gone. The harder I tried, the worse my music got. I'm not sure I understand it completely today, but I loved my horn, and it turned against me. I didn't know if I would ever get it back.

At first I tried to intellectualize the problem, I read books on trumpet playing, but found they conflicted. I tried to reteach myself to play-but nothing helped.

[The study of behavioral psychology] taught me a lot about myself and my problem. I had become musically drained-with no time out to evaluate what had happened to me during those frantic years.2

[By 1969] the horn was trying to tell me something. Somehow it wouldn't receive the notes that I was trying to push through it. I wasn't able to tap my inner resources. So I decided to put the horn away for awhile. I wanted to take time off to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I began losing that feeling that I had early in the game. The albums automatically sold 1.3 million copies in advance, and I got the feeling that I wasn't being treated as a musician. I felt we had become some kind of factory.3

1. Horn of Plenty. Mark Rowland. LA Style, October 1991.
2. Herb Alpert Finds His Long Lost Lip. Marilyn Beck, 1974.
3. Alpert Tells Why He Took Time Off. Bob Thomas in Lancaster (PA) New Era, 1974.


I fried in 1969. I just lost it, lost my fast ball. With the whirlwind experience I had in the mid-1960's, I thought I had the American Dream, but I had lost contact with myself. I was totally overworked, and I didn't know who I was or what I was doing, or who I was doing it for. You become successful, you have a little money, you're respected by your peers, and you've got the brass ring-but it's stll empty if you're not feeling good about yourself.1

During 1969, we started going back to the same places for concerts, and I figured we must also be playing to the same audiences to a large extent and suddenly one day, I could face it no longer.

The thrill had gone. We went on that tour in England and I regret it now because I was coming off the stage after a show and wondering why we were just going through the motions. There was no fun. I wasn't present!

I felt like a piece of machinery being moved from airport to hotel to a concert hall, where a trumpet entered my mouth and I blew the same notes night after night.

Bang, it had happened. I had to come off the road and I did it as fast as I could, doing some final dates which we were committed to. It was a shame it went like that because it really messed up my head.

And it had all started so innocently. I wanted to have some pleasure taking a band out and making some records, and suddenly I didn't understand what all the commotion was about.

Couldn't figure out why the audience response was so great! The sheer size of our success seemed crazy and out of all proportion.

Originally, things had seemed so enjoyable. All the tunes we played on concert or recorded were chosen because they had some ingredient that touched me.

The only two times I tried to make a hit record, they failed, because they had gone against my most natural instincts.

During the period the band had all those hits, I felt I was working in a factory making songs. Push a button, write a song, sell a million.

What worried me was that I was no longer being judged as an artist, but I was caught up in some other thing that felt uncomfortable.

A year after all that happened, I needed to take time off for an overview of what was happening.

Unfortunately I couldn't stop playing immediately: there were certain commitments. But I know now that I should have pulled myself out of even those commitments because the 1969 tour was really painful.2

1. A&M Records press release for Under a Spanish Moon album, 1988.
2. Alpert: the Thrill Is Back!


To me, the idea in the recording studio is not to try to be anything other than yourself, and then let whatever happens happen. It's not a left-brain endeavor. The key is to free yourself to the point where you can let it out and feel good about what you're hearing. 'Cause you know when you're b.s.-ing. Your neck starts feeling weird.

When you do well with a lot of records, people start looking at you like you're making buttons or something. But I did all the music I did from my heart whatever happened. I can't say every song I ever recorded was coming from a deep source, but for the most part I tried to make them all special. I tried to ring my own bell, that's for sure.1

I go into making a record knowing what I don't want. If a certain direction starts to feel good, I'll pursue it. If it doesn't, I let it go, and may come back to it. I've found the best songs are the ones that come back to haunt me.2

I always wonder, when it's time to make a record, what will give me a feeling of growth. If a certain direction feels good, I'll pursue it. If it doesn't, I'll let it go. I'm not interested in understanding it intellectually. I just press three valves, and for some unknown reason, something real happens.3

Making records is a passion for me. I love to do them, and there's always a bit of a letdown when the process is over. I keep playing because of a personal need. When I go for months without going into the studio, my energy level starts waning. I just can't imagine my world without making music.4

1. Jazzing It Up. Don Heckman. Los Angeles Times Calendar, June 7, 1992.
2. A&M Records press release for Magic Man album, July 1981.
3. Bullish Tour Book 1984.
4. Almo Sounds press release for Colors album, 1997.



I don't think of the music business as a place to make money but as a place to have fun and put out some good records, and I enjoy it when we work with people who are of the same mind.1

I don't think people are real concerned with what you've done in the past. They're listening to what's happening now and if the record is good, they're willing to buy it, and if it's not, next. So I always feel it's a new ballgame every time you collect some material and decide to record.

I was recording prior to 'Rise.' I had a few albums out. They were real secret service. Nobody knew about them. They were out there, nice covers. You can market it to death and spend all types of money on billboards and advertising. If people don't want it, they're not going to buy it. If radio doesn't want to play it, they're not going to play it.2

1. Herbie Rides Again. Alan Jackson. New Musical Express. June 20, 1987.
2. Robert W. Morgan Special of the Week radio show SES 804-1, October 4, 1980.


I feel like the producer's job is to be the middle man between the artist and the tape machine. I try to support the artist as much as possible and to give them honest feedback. Give them the feeling that there's somebody in their corner who wants them to make a great record and to be an audience to what they're doing. There's a fine line. Sometimes you can intimidate an artist if you're too strong with them. It's important for an artist to have an honest person behind the glass.1

1. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.


I like to set up the best environment for the musicians to respond to, leaving a lot of freedom for them to express themselves through me, while still allowing them to exercise their own musical integrity.1

I always have the engineers ready to record whenever I sit down in the chair with the horn. I just go on inspiration-I call it my close-your-eyes-pick-up-the-horn-and-play approach. To me, that's why it continues to be fun after doing this for so many years. I play at it, but I'm prepared. I still practice everyday, whether I'm recording or not. Because when I'm not recording, I'm thinking about what I'd like to attempt next.2

1. A&M Records press release for Beyond album, June 1980.
2. A&M Records press release for North on South St. album, Marcch 1991.


As soon as music videos came along, people started listening with their eyes as well as their ears. It's almost a different genre.1

1. 6 Questions with Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss. Brian Garrity. Billboard, February 24, 2007.


[Digital music services give consumers the ability to pick tracks.] It's unfortunate that people aren't interested in the full document of an album. Now people just want a song or two for their iPods. It seems like it's just piecemeal. But the good thing is that does entice people to explore catalogs.1

1. 6 Questions with Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss. Brian Garrity. Billboard, February 24, 2007.


It's important to be an audience to what you do. That's how I try to produce records. Sam Cooke taught me that lesson.1

I think you should be active and play. I think getting feedback from the audience out there would be quite a help. And also try to be as objective as you can about your music. I kind of put myself in the place of the audience and ask myself if I would put a quarter in the jukebox to hear what I just did again. If your answer is yes, keep going. If your answer is no, start changing course.

You have to move forward and don't be discouraged. Nobody knows what that magical song is. If you believe in what you're doing, and it's original and it's you, just keep going for it.2

1. Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, October 17, 1978.
2. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.


You have to start with a good melody. The melody is the boss. Most producers will tell you there are three elements for a great record: it's a good song, it's a good song, it's a good song. You have to start with that. Then after the song, you have to have a feel, because, as we know, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." For me, it has to be believable, it has to have an element of truth. I think that's why we all responded to Charlie Parker. Charlie had the truth coming out of that horn. In spite of the incredible notes that he found, we felt him. There was a sense of urgency, as if we were tapped into his soul.1

1. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.


You don't get hit records from trying to be clever. I just try and express myself the best I can. I've never intentionally started out to make a hit record, just a good record. I think quality always wins out, it seems to be the common denominator for success.1

No one really knows what a hit record is supposed to be. There IS no formula, no common denominator. I just follow my gut reactions about a song. One night I picked up my horn and played a new arrangement of a tune I liked. In five minutes it was done, and once I'd recorded it, I kept going back to listen again, because it felt right. Everybody told me that it couldn't be a hit single. It was too long, it stopped in the middle and you couldn't dance to it. But I thought 'A Taste of Honey' really had something. I felt so much satisfaction when it went to #1 and became the record of the year. That demonstrated to me how important it is to trust your instincts.2

1. A&M Records press release for Beyond album, June 1980.
2. Bullish tour book 1984.


When I played 'Rise," that trumpet that I'm playing is like Herb Alpert 1962, 1963--it was the tapestry behind me that changed. That song was good. The sound of that record was great and the guy that was playing trumpet was just complimenting it. It could have been maybe a lot of different types of guys given that same arrangement and the same song. My point is that it is what was behind me that made the difference and a lot of these artists don't think about that. You know, they put themselves in that old-time setting that we've heard a thousand times before and it's just old hat and nobody cares about it. So if they could update it. See like Quincy Jones knows how to do that. Quincy came through the jazz era, the pop era, the rock era. He's a symphony musician. Listen to the new Frank Sinatra album he just did. There's a perfect example.1

I've always tried to make pictures with instrumental music. I think instrumental music is doubly tough because you don't have that lyric that leads you into the direction of what the song is about. So I always try to do it through sounds and textures and feeling.2

I'm always trying to change the backdrop. I've always tried to push it a bit, not just be satisfied, repeating what had been done...There's endless ways to scramble up 12 notes to say nothing of all the rhythms available.3

When making music you have to let it come out by getting into the mood of the song and letting it happen. It becomes more emotional and a better experience as a player and listener.4

1. Herb Alpert Today. M. G. Kelly. Westwood One/Mutual Broadcasting System, September 12, 1988.
2. Star Track Profile 87-24, June 8, 1982.
3. Herb Alpert Learns New Tricks. Prodigy News Service, April 28, 1991.
4. Rise Raises Herb Alpert's Recording Posture. Ed Harrison. Billboard, 1979.


I don't think people buy me--I think they buy something that touches them. There might be x amount of people who like to look at what I'm doing from time to time, but I think you're either touched by something or you're not.1

SOURCE: A&M Records press release for North on South St. album, June 1992.



I was eight years old and I couldn't get a note out of it. I thought that you had to blow hot air into the trumpet. But I always liked the sound of the instrument. I remember hearing people that could play it.1

I really do what I love to do. I've been playing since I was eight and I enjoy playing. Many times after a concert I'd say, "Gee, I'm doing this for a living. I'm getting paid to do this." ...I never thought of it as a job. It's something I'd be doing if I wasn't successful at it.

The trumpet has been one of my best friends in the world. It taught me a lot about myself and life and it's brought so many great things to my life that I love the trumpet. Not my trumpet, but the trumpet, the idea because it's just a megaphone, it's just something that makes noise.2

I've never thought of the horn as a mechanical thing, an instrument. I've always been aware of the horn as an extension of my body, a part of me. It's another voice.3

I love the trumpet. It just resonates with my heart. It's a challenge for me. You never ever get to play an instrument, you never reach that place, there's always something to improve on, to learn, a new technique. I've been doing it since I was 8. It's such a part of me. If I don't do it, I miss it. It's like therapy for me.4

1. The Arrangers. BBC Radio 2, 1988.
2. Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, October 17, 1978.
3. Herb's Tenth. Derek Taylor. Cash Box, April 20, 1968.
4. Herb Alpert Learns New Tricks. Prodigy News Service, April 28, 1991.


I think music today has taken a different turn. It's leaning more toward the natural today. By usual standards, I don't have a great instrument as a vocalist. But maybe there is a basic truth that comes across. If you choose good material and are honest about the arrangement and recording, you can get closer to what people are understanding today than if you just sing in a beautiful voice.

1. Alpert Awaiting Vocal Followup. Mary Campbell. AP. Lancaster (PA) New Era Television Week.


[As a professional musician I took lessons.] There are a lot of things I can't do on the horn and it keeps me on my toes.

[Carmine Caruso's] method has to do with the physics of playing the instrument. It's a way of likening the musician to an athlete. Instead of thinking of the instrument as music, you think of the instrument as something you have to do to coordinate your muscles to time.1

[Training and discipline are] necessary. Discipline for a musician is as vital as it is for a professional athlete.

You have to work daily. There's no use practicing three hours one day and ten minutes the next. Discipline actually tends to become a habit, once you get into the groove of it.2

[For me, practicing] became a habit like brushing my teeth.3

I try to get in at least an hour [of playing the horn everyday]. I play all different kinds of things, but I mainly play jazz now--running chords, putting changes together in a logical fashion. It's not easy. You can get so far on your ear, the rest is hard work. You can tell which guys have put in the time. The notes are right where they are supposed to be.4

"[When I talk to aspiring artists] my big phrase is, 'When you're sleeping, someone else is practicing.'"

1. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.
2. TJB Bugle #6, 1969.
3. Sunday News TV Week. Lancaster (PA) New Era, October 26, 1969.
4. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.
5. He's Still a Player. John Berlau. Wall Street Journal (web site), March 6, 2013.


When I talk to a musician whose playing I respect, I pick their brain to find out their approach to music. Almost everyone has a different take on how they go about it. I still try to improve my jazz and keep abreast of what's going on in the jazz world.

If a person plays music that is honest, with good feeling and a good rhythmic sense, that's what is important. Also when you get on the tightrope, don't plan it too much. I think that's what most jazzers have in common--don't force anything. Everything [comes] out naturally...I started resonating with that concept of playing. It gave me that freedom which I believe we are all looking for.1

Music that really happens is the music that comes from within. It's not the music that's on the paper. There's a certain spontaneity that, I think, needs to happen on a record and when it does, that's what the producers call 'magic time.' That's what I try for.

When you get some technical facility and you can rattle off a lot of notes, it's tempting to just full up a bunch of space. But there's music in space. There's music that happens in the space between the notes that you don't hear. Miles [Davis] really taught us that.2

1. Herb Alpert. Irving Bush and Susan Bliss. Windplayer #64.
2. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.


How many really distinctive trumpet styles have there been? Seven, maybe? Eight? Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Harry James, Diz Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown (the greatest of them all in my book), Henry Busse in a different way, I suppose. Not many. Well, I wanted some identity of my own.1

I did want to come up with something different. It's easy to copy but it's hard to be original. There are plenty of ideas that come along that are fresh and new and they're not accepted. This probably happened to be the right time and the right place and the luck factor. I'll never overlook that.2

I listened to all my different favorites [trumpet players] and tried to emulate them only to realize that gee, if I'm going to get any place in this business I'm going to have to be me so I put all that aside. I realized that there was room for everybody. There was room for Chuck Mangione who is a great flugelhorn player. Everybody has something to say, just try to tap your own sound.3

I think there'll always be room for originality. That's the mainstay, that's the key. That's, for me, what makes jazz so exciting. 'Cause jazz is of the moment. You just never know what a great musician is going to do.4

1. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Tour Book, 1966.
2. WHN Spectacular Radio Show, 1966.
3. Herb's Tenth. Derek Taylor. Cash Box, April 20, 1968.
4. Entertainment Tonight, October 19, 1981.


[Feeling comfortable] is the key. No matter what type of music you're making, there's a believability factor. It it's not there, it ain't happenin'. You can't affect it. You can't affect music, you can only be yourself.1

For me, it didn't matter what genre you were singing or playing in, as long as it's honest and real.2

I realized awhile back that if I'm going to express myself through the instrument it has to be honest. Every note that I play for the most part I try to make a real expression of the way I'm feeling at that particular moment, not that planned, calculated moment, not a series of notes that I could write down and a type of feeling that I'm trying to affect. I try to make it real for me. Not for the listener. For me to get off playing I have to feel like I'm experiencing what I'm doing. You know you hit a couple of right notes in a sequence with the right chord underneath and it's a chill bump. It's a great feeling. That's the pursuit of the musician. To get those good feelings. How many of those good feelings in a row can you collect?3

1. Art Sutter in Hollywood radio show 1987.
2. 'Creativity is what we need more of, if we're going to survive in this world.' Paul Freeman. San Jose Mercury News, August 17, 2011.
3. Herb Alpert Today. M. G. Kelly. Westwood One/Mutual Broadcasting System, September 12, 1988.


There are 479 million combinations of notes, you know sequences...to say nothing of the various rhythms you can put to it. I think what most creative people do is, when you hear something you like, you kind of log it somewhere back there. It might be just a fragment of an idea or a chord change that appeals to you and somewhere within your own work it kind of creeps up and you find a way to not necessarily cop it but it appears out of the blue. I think when you're really doing something that's happening, it's just coming out of you, it's out of your control, you just do it. I think that's the beauty of music. The beauty of a particular chord with the right melody and the right tapestry behind it. There's no way to analyze it, but when they all crunch together properly, goosebumps go up the back of your neck and you can't find a common denominator for that. What makes that happen? It's magic time.1

1. Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, October 17, 1978.


[Instinct is] the ingredient which separates the artist from those who are just trying to sell records. Louis Armstrong said it best-if you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know. It's in the abstract. What is it about a melody or a rhythm that puts one person in total arrest and the next person staring at the wall like nothin's going on? That's magic. What is it? It's something that doesn't register on the word level.1

For me, there are no labels. There's good music or bad music. It's whatever happens to touch you that works. I try real hard not to be intellectual about music. I listen like Silly Putty and if something affects me, it works for me and that's good, and if it doesn't, it doesn't.2

1. Horn of Plenty. Joe Medwick. HITS, November 23, 1992.
2. Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, October 17, 1978.


I realized this is not brain surgery we're talking about here. This is music. You're supposed to have a good time making music. As soon as it becomes too serious, if you try to make a hit record or you try to hard it's like a ball club when you try to hard to with that full court press. It doesn't work that way so you have to let things flow.

Me, personally, I went through some major adjustments. It was not that easy. There were moments when I was really questioning what I was doing, if I was having fun, because I realized around 1969 that the goal is not the success and the money and the fame. The goal is to do something you really enjoy doing.1

1. Herb Alpert Today. M. G. Kelly. Westwood One/Mutual Broadcasting System, September 12, 1988.


There are a lot of people who attempt to play rock 'n' roll because they've got the right song and they've got the right drummer and the right bass player. But they don't know a darn thing about it because they don't live it, and they don't play it every night. And guys who try to play jazz because they know the right songs and the right changes. But it's deeper than that. It's much deeper than that.1

If you want to sing or play rock & roll, you've got to be rock & roll. If you want to play jazz, you've got to be jazz. You can't just dial it up on your computer. It's like when I asked Stan [Getz] to give me some be-bop lessons. It took plenty of work, but I was willing to put in the work. There's no magic pill and drugs won't get you there either; it's hard work that'll get you there.2

1. Jazzing It Up. Don Heckman. Los Angeles Times Calendar, June 7, 1992.
2. Horn of Plenty. Joe Medwick. HITS, November 23, 1992.


I came around to realize what a lot of jazz enthusiasts have found in recent years. You know-John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham.

They've found that their jazz is palatable, that people will go for it. You've got to break through these barriers.1

I want jazz to be listened to just as MUSIC. I cannot compete with all the treasures that have already been preserved. I want to reverse the feeling that jazz is a sacred area. It should be as much people's music as anything else.

When you do something with integrity, then there's a place for it, somewhere. When I listen to music that deserves a chance on record, I'm not concerned whether they're going to sell three million or three copies. If it's good, its time will come and it should be released.2

To me, jazz is a continuous pursuit--an adventure with endless, endless possibilities. Forget about the fact that there are 12 notes, and you can run them upside-down in thousands of combinations with all the different variations of rhythms and chords and the things you can play and the things you don't need to play.

The important thing, beyond all that, is to find your place in it all, your own personal stamp. The reason we love Stan Getz and John Coltrane and Miles and Bird and Benny Goodman is because they have their own stamp. Getz plays one note and you say, 'Oh wow. Hey, hello Stan, how are you? Nice to see you again.' Because he has that stamp in his playing.3

1. Alpert: the Thrill Is Back!
2. Tijuana Taxi to South Africa.
3. Jazzing It Up. Don Heckman. Los Angeles Times Calendar, June 7, 1992.


I think that period of punk rock when people barfed on stage, was just a forerunner to the current new wave. Groups like the Police, Squeeze and Joe Jackson are another quality entirely. I think Sting is a major star; he's our Paul McCartney for the '80s.1

1. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.


My first indoctrination into loud rock was Lee Michaels at the Whiskey, just after we'd signed him. He was so loud that I was literally pinned to the back wall, and there were kids there with their heads jammed right against the speakers. That's when I realized I was listening with a different pair of ears.1

1. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.



Bryan Adams

Bryan has all the goods. He's growing swiftly as an artist and is willing to sacrifice to do it. Also, that pained, lived-in quality in his voice is one that a lot of people can relate to in these difficult days.1

1. A&M Records press release for Under a Spanish Moon album, 1988.


Meeting him was a highlight. Louis was just the way I imagined him. A lovely guy, warm, friendly and I loved the way he played. He brought a smile to me, whether he was singing or playing. He played with a smile and he was that type of guy.1

Man, it ain't what you do, it's the way you do it. Look at Louis Armstrong, who probably was the greatest [jazz trumpeter]. The thing he did in 1935 where he was playing and singing "Ain't Misbehavin'"--it was beautiful. Obviously the guy didn't have a great voice, but, wow, could he communicate!2

Of all the great musicians that I've met, he was the one who really personified...his personality came right through his horn. That was Louie. He was upbeat, he was friendly, he was real, he was great.

1. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.
2. A Conversation with Herb Alpert. Michael Fagien. Jazziz, August 2009, 17.
3. Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.

Louis Armstrong


Burt is a unique talent. The stuff comes right through him. He lives every note that he plays.

Burt called me to hear a song that he wrote with Elvis Costello but it was rejected. Burt liked the melody a lot. He asked me to come by his house. He sat down at the piano and was playing this thing for me like he was performing it. His heart and soul was in playing this song for me.

He's just an amazing musician....Needless to say, he's an American treasure. He's written so many great, great songs through the years.

1. Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.
2. 2016 interview with Hawaii Public Radio's ATC with host Dave Lawrence.


Chet Baker had a way of communicating. When he sang and when he played, it was like there was no difference. It was like he was singing through his horn.

He knew the chords by ear, by instinct. I mean the guy could go through a minefield of changes like he knew what was happening in the exact moment. He didn't. It was just all feel. He was a genius.

[Gerry Mulligan told me] he couldn't believe how quickly [Chet] would learn a song. [Gerry] could play a song once [for Baker] and he'd have it.

1. A Conversation with Herb Alpert. Michael Fagien. Jazziz, August 2009, 17.
2. Conversations with Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.


Gato Barbieri

I wanted to use some production and editing techniques on 'Caliente' but Gato didn't want to do any tricks with the tapes. He said to me, 'I'm a jazz musician, and I'll play the tune straight thru, all night long, until you like it.' And I was pissed off and admired him at the same time. It made me realize that music is like life, it's not perfect. You take the good with the bad, and try for one with a lot of good in it. Now when I pick up the horn, I just let it fly. Because when I hit that good note or bar, that's worth it all.1

I [produced] Barbieri, too. That was an interesting experience for me. That's passion personified.2

1. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.
2. A Conversation with Herb Alpert. Michael Fagien. Jazziz, August 2009, 17.


Now the Carpenters--they seem to me to epitomize what the label is all about. They do what they do with loving care, and that's the quality we aim to encourage in our artists.1

To many people, they were just another middle-of-the-road group. The idea of a girl drummer who sang was shrugged off as too peculiar, but I heard something in Karen and Richard's music, a seductive delicacy. To go from early critical dismissal to selling 75 million records and holding an enormously loyal following was a very profound experience.2

It wasn't my cup of tea, but I recognized their intent and their passion for what they were doing. Karen had an amazing voice. She had a little magic going on. At my office in A&M I could record her on a simple microphone. And Richard was a student of the record industry. It was honest music.3

1. Alpert: the Thrill Is Back!
2. A&M Records press release for Under a Spanish Moon album, 1988.
3. Herb Alpert Looks Back on Remarkable Musical Life. Aidin Vaziri. San Francisco Chronicle, May 5, 2011.



When I first started I was more intellectual about the process. I was curious about intonation. I was a detailist thinking about how chords collect together. I don't know if I can articulate it right now but I remember Sam Cooke used to come in with a sheet, a little folio of lyrics and some of the lyrics really sounded trite when you read them...Sam would pick up his guitar and transform this seemingly trite set of lyrics into something very poetic and beautiful and rhythmical and sensitive and it had the whole thing. So watching Sam work was a big eye-opener for me. He always used to tell me, "Man, nobody cares how you make the record. They're listening to a cold piece of wax and it either really makes it or it doesn't." that stuck with me. To this moment I still think of that when I listen to a new record or I listen to my own records. It's either working or it's not. There's no mystery about it. When something happens, it happens.1

[Sam Cooke] was a friend and he taught me a lot. He taught me about feel. He also said the people [the record buyers [are listening to a cold piece of wax and it either makes it or it doesn't. Don't analyze it past that. It doesn't matter whether you're black, white, yellow, green, it's not important. People are listening and it either touches them or it doesn't. So he cut through everything. Prior to that I was listening to everything, the intonation, the echo, like the record had a suit and tie on. Now I just listen for songs to touch me. When I'm recording, when I hear a tape that gives me that feeling, I know I've found something.2

I was truly witness to a genius. This guy was not only an amazing person, but also his talent was staggering. He had his own very personal way of approaching a song, lyrically, vocally, rhythmically. He could turn complete rubbish into the highest prose.

Sam juggled [Wonderful World] around a bit and I'll say without hesitation that he totally improved on it.

[Sam taught me] that you have to be an individual in this business, you have to have your own stamp. As a copyist you may find success for a few brief moments but it will soon wear thin. No one wants to see or hear a carbon copy of someone else.3

1. Herb Alpert Today. M. G. Kelly. Westwood One/Mutual Broadcasting System, September 12, 1988.
2. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.
3. Herbie Rides Again. Alan Jackson. New Musical Express, June 20, 1987.

Sam Cooke


Miles Davis led the way in understanding the nuances. I think he was the ultimate jazz musician, in the respect that he appreciated the silence in between the notes.1

I think we all kind of respected Miles. He was true to what he was doing. It wasn't about fancy notes or if he made a mistake he was okay with it. He was about being honest to the music he wanted to make. And he always picked on the right musicians to surround himself with.

1. 'Creativity Is What We Need More of, If We're Going to Survive in This World. Paul Freeman. San Jose Mercury News, August 17, 2011.
2. Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.

Miles Davis


Peter Frampton

Coming off the live album he had a whole dedicated following, and although it's easy to say this with hindsight, taking two years off the road and doing that dog movie, 'Sgt. Pepper' wasn't the wisest decision. It's sad to read what some people say about him, trying to cut him down. If you turn your back on him and listen, he's a hell of a guitar player, a musician right down to the core. All I can say is don't count him out.1

1. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.


Stan Getz

I loved Stan. We became very close the last three years of his life...What I saw was a lovely, sensitive, caring person and a wonderful friend...There were a handful of magical musicians that walked this earth and obviously Stan Getz was one.

He said jazz is not about playing licks or fancy lines, it's about a logical beginning, middle and end. It's a story. You first have to get your vocabulary down then you can do what you have to do. Close your eyes and just play.

I used to ask [jazz saxophonist] Stan Getz, 'What does it feel like when you make the music?' And he would tell me, 'It feels like I'm standing in front of the Wailing Wall and bowing.'2

Stan kept drilling into me the fact that he never played a note he didn't mean! Essentially, what he was trying to do was to let it be an experience of the moment.1

I did the first album with Stan when he was totally clean, no drugs, no nothing...And he was quite nervous because he didn't know whether he could play or not without all the additives. But the guy was brilliant.

You know, I told him I didn't want to produce his album. He said, "But I want you to do it." I said, "Man, I've heard horror stories about you. I don't want to get involved." He goes, "But I've changed, man. I've made amends." This was the last four years of his life. And he was a prince. I mean, we turned out to be like brothers. I loved this guy. He wore his emotions really close to the surface. You knew exactly what he was feeling and thinking, and he was just a wonderful human being. Down deep, the guy was great.3

He knew the chords, he knew the changes, he knew all that stuff. He could read a music once, have it, turn it upside down and play it.

Eddie Sauder laid out that chart [the Focus album]. Stan was playing it, just reading it as they were recording it, improvising as he was reading this thing. It's incredible. Stan was on another planet with his concept. He was so lyrical. He was funky.

1. Horn of Plenty. Joe Medwick. HITS, November 23, 1992.
2. Alpert Thrives After 50 Years of Hit-Making. Miriam Di Nunzio. Chicago Sun-Times, June 9, 2011.
3. A Conversation with Herb Alpert. Michael Fagien. Jazziz, August 2009, 17.
4. Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.


She has a real clear perspective on life. She was able to see right into me. She was articulating what I my insides were feeling but I didn't have it up on the surface. All through the years she's been able to see the clear picture.1

She's extremely honest and vulnerable as a singer, as an interpreter of the song. She's not gonna sing a song she doesn't feel.2

I admire Lani as an artist. She is a world-class singer. It is wonderful hearing her night after night, and it's fun playing both behind her and with her. It's a win-win for me.3

1. Art Sutter in Hollywood radio show 1987.
2. Alpert Thrives After 50 YEars of Hit-Making. Miriam Di Nunzio. Chicago Sun-Times, June 9, 2011.
3. Herb Alpert & Lani Hall: Together Again for the First Time. Christopher Loudon. Jazz Times, February 14, 2011.

Lani Hall


George was terrific. He was a real human being. He was a really sweet guy with a lot of talent, and we became friends. I think "Something" is one of the most memorable Beatles songs. I love that melody.

SOURCE: Herb Alpert's 'Love Affair' Song Premiere: Listen Now. Gary Graff. Billboard, September 8, 2015.


He was a sweetheart of a guy. He was very gentle. He was a great artist. He could draw, he could write great songs....He recorded some things at A&M...He was good friends with John McClain who worked in the A&R Department. They went to school together....I don't if people ever really, really appreciated the talent this kid had. I mean he was extraordinary. I think there was always an advantage of guys and girls that could dance. There's a certain thing about when these dancers made records. They always made that record in a groove that made it comfortable for you to move. So they could move themselves and when they moved a lot of other people at the same time.

SOURCE: 2016 interview with Hawaii Public Radio's ATC with host Dave Lawrence.


Waylon Jennings

One of our first artists was Waylon Jennings. I did Waylon's very first records. I happen to love Waylon Jennings. I think he's a fabulous artist.1

1. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.


Quincy Jones is a terrific talent. He's a fantastic person. If I were going to make a list of ten of my favorite people, he'd be right on it.1

1. Wm. B and Company/U.S. Army Reserve Show #215, June 8, 1975.

Quincy Jones


Jeff Lorber is an extraordinary creative musician who has all the right brain/left brain stuff, and who's proficient with computers. You can get to ideas very quickly with him.1

1. Herb Alpert on the Silence Between the Notes. Ben Fong-Torres. Gavin, 1996.


Jazz today is healthier and better than ever. Wynton Marsalis is holding the torch and doing a tremendous job.1

1. Herb Alpert on the Silence Between the Notes. Ben Fong-Torres. Gavin, 1996.

Photo credit: PR


Wes was a real giant. He sat in this chair about two weeks before he died. He was really hot then, very popular. He was thinking he had a feeling for what people were looking for. The conversation ended, we walked to his car and as he was about to get in, he said, "Hey Herbie, when my records stop sellin', let's have this conversation again." He was a beautiful guy.1

I was thinking, 'Wow. What is that magical sound that he gets?' He comes in with this old funky amplifier with cobwebs all over the back of it. And he'd just plug it in and BANG there was that sound. And he was another guy who didn't read music. What a feel. Man oh man, he was a groove machine.

He could hear something once and he had it. He just scoped it out.

1. Herb Alpert Nice Guy at Top. Zan Stewart. Windplayer, January 1986.
2. Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.

Wes Montgomery


Art was one of the guys that really touched me. I loved the way he played right from the heart....Art was something special.

Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.


When I saw them at the Whisky on that first road trip, man, I was just beaming from ear to ear. Here, at last, in only three pieces, was a band that had the whole tool box.1

They're special. They're unique. They're fabulous musicians. They have an understanding of what they're doing and they have a lot of musical integrity. And they work at it-they travel around the world. They work at it. They're a fabulous group to see in-person.2

They have so much energy and their intent is so good and they're so musical and they're willing to take chances. They're willing to be adventurous which I think is one of the great contributions that the Police have made.3

As a band the Police has a magnetism that translates on records. Their music is compelling and instant recognizable. They can take a love song like Every Breath You Take and give it a mysterious melody that haunts you into listening to the song over and over.4

1. A&M Records press release for Under a Spanish Moon album, 1988.
2. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.
3. Portrait of a Legend television show 1982.
4. Alpert: Top Brass in the Music Industry. Craig Modderno. USA Today, 1984.

The Police


I used to see Shorty all the time. I liked that sound....Shorty had a real unique way of expressing himself as a musician. It was different. He had his own little vocabulary and it was always upbeat, he was on the positive side of it all.

Of all the great musicians that I've met in my life, Shorty was right there on top. He was just a beautiful human being.

Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.


We had the Sex Pistols but that fell apart. They were on A&M for a week in March '77, and it was longer than they deserved to stay.

The Pistols were too demanding, too crazy, too drugged out, and as far as I'm concerned, just nonsense. I can go for somebody who's flamboyant, for craziness, y'know, but when it turns on you then it doesn't matter how good an artist is. They were so self-centered they didn't care about anybody else. The Pistols were very rude to our London staff and there was a scene in our offices there. We had some money invested in them but Jerry and I agreed, 'let's get them the fuck off, who needs that?'1

I was in the office the day they walked in. I didn't get it. I don't like that stuff. I'm not crazy about music that preys on the weaknesses of society. I like music that uplifts people.2

1. Dan Nooger Profiles A&M Records Head Herb Alpert. Goldmine, April 1980.
2. David Cavanaugh. Q, April/May 1997.

Sex Pistols


I don't think there was anyone better than Frank Sinatra in terms of exprssing himself, expressing a lyric, expressing a feeling. He was absolutely the real thing.

Conversations with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies, May 6, 2015.


[The band Soul Asylum released a parody of the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album 'Whipped Cream and Other Delights.' Soul Asylum called their record 'Clam Dip and Other Delights.']

I think it's just people showing a lack of imagination by capitalizing on something they didn't do. I wasn't tickled by that.1

1. Brass or No, Herb Alpert Keeps Making Things Happen in the Music Business. Sean Piccoli. News-Times Music News, May 8, 1977.


Cat Stevens

I was always a fan of Cat Stevens. I'm sorry he's not recording now but I'm glad he's found what he was looking for.1

1. Herb Alpert: the A&M Boss Blows His Own Horn. Paul Sexton. Jocks, January 1988.


Sting has a great sound. Their material is excellent. Sting has an honest, sensual presence. He's not beautiful, but he has an animal attraction.1

And that type of freedom that we hear in Sting, who's an elegant performer...I mean, he's funky and elegant at the same time, but he was a jazz bass player. And he has that sensibility about him. It flows in a real natural way out of him. I think he's the kind of artist that we always gravitated towards.2

1. Alpert: Top Brass in the Music Industry. Craig Moddern. USA Today, 1984.
2. A Conversation with Herb Alpert. Michael Fagien. Jazziz, August 2009, 17.



Out of Chicago. They're a tight unit; they've been playing together for years. It's not just an overnight wonder it's something that's developed over a long period of time.1

1. Larry King Show, June 7, 1982.




Painting, sculpting, music, dancing...all art is similar in that it has the ability to go straight to one's heart. It's all about communication, someone sending a message out there and many others receiving something spiritual from it. Artistic expression is, to me, one of the wonders of life itself.

I think it's important to encourage young people to pursue the arts, as a possible professional path for some, as a basic discipline for others. I believe a commitment to fostering the arts in young people, helping them learn, appreciate and nurture their natural gifts, is one of our only hopes to cure the greed and insensitivity that permeates our society these days. It's a pleasure to give back to the world in this way.1

1. Almo Sounds press release for Colours album, 1997.


I like to paint. I like to do creative things. If I had my choice I'd like to be outside and do things at my own pace.1

If you go into a first-grade class and ask, 'How many of you kids think you're creative?' everybody will raise their hand, because their imagination is going strong. If you ask the same question to a college group, you might get 10 out of 300. A lot of times, creativity gets beaten out of people, beaten out of kids. And creativity is what we need more of, if we're going to survive in this world.2

1. Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, October 17, 1978.


I feel strongly that to make art, music, whatever you're doing that has to do with some artistic endeavor, you have to let it come through you. And when it comes through you, you can't think. That has to be the first rule. If you think too much it becomes intellectual then it becomes an exercise then it's a study and then it's very calculated. But when you let art come through, you just have to take what you get.1

In the early works I was taking some lessons from little kids, when I'd watch a group of school kids just move paint around the canvas. They'd take their fingers and move it around quickly and a lot of the works, to my eye, looked pretty nice and complete and sincere. Adults have a tendency to think about it-where the paint should go, and put a little dab in this corner and a dab over here, and by the time they finish all the dabs it looks contrived and stiff. So I was trying to eliminate the stiffness and get right to the flow. Picasso once said that when he learned how to paint like a child he found something special. I think there's a whole key in that phrase. I was always looking for a way of expressing myself through painting without overthinking it, but yet be part of some type of rhythm.2

1. The Arrangers. BBC Radio 2, 1988.
2. Herb Alpert: Recent Paintings. Lesley Wenger. Wenger Gallery exhibit book, December 31, 1991.


In a confusing world like ours, we count on the artist to deliver the truth right through the front door; always be aware that "the reach of your compassion is the reach of your art."1

1. Cal Art/Alpert Award in the Arts program brochure, May 5, 1995.


I happened to go to this museum and I saw this black painting that had a purple dot someplace in it. Along side of it was a purple painting with a black dot. And there was this plaque, 'Donated by the Guggenheims' or somebody and I went, 'Hey wait a minute. I want to do this too. This looks like fun.' And like three steps away there was a lacquered surfboard leaning up against the wall in just the right position so it just felt like something I wanted to get involved with. Then I realized it really wasn't that easy. I tried the black painting but I didn't know where to put the dot. [Laughter] A lot of it is trial and error. I started with very small paintings. Three inch by five inch, one foot by two foot. Now I'm painting fifteen foot.1

I just wanted to see what I could do, to see if I could put some magic on canvas.

I wasn't planning on being a painter. I was merely trying to have some fun moving colors around the canvas. I found my best teacher was the pursuit of it--that my mixing certain colors things would happen--little by little, I arrived at colors and motion that started to give me pleasure.2

1. Art Sutter in Hollywood radio show, 1987.
2. Herb Alpert: Recent Paintings. Lesley Wenger. Wenger Gallery exhibit book, December 31, 1991.


Painting, for me, is like playing jazz. I start with very few intentions and everything is discovered by me and the canvas simultaneously--much as the trumpet and I discover rhythms and melodies. The paint and the canvas represent the composition and I become the interpreter.

When I started painting twenty years ago I did it out of curiosity. The band and I had been touring and whenever I had a break I visited art museums. The relationship between abstract art and jazz seemed instantly clear because they both embodies color, free form, a lack of pretension and, most of all, fun. I wanted to try it and I started out moving colors around. While I enjoyed it, it was a lot like practicing scales. The products of the first few years were muddy. Gradually the forms began to work and flow. The tonalities of a painting are not apparent to me until it's done and it registers its frequency.1

Painting feeds my soul. It gives me energy. I like the mystery of painting. It's the unknown. It's a bit like magic. I never quite know what's going to be there until it's there.

It's a unique experience for me because I'm not by myself. I'm painting through my spirit, through my imagination, through my unconscious. All of a sudden there's this third person that pops up, and all of a sudden he becomes a consultant to what I'm doing and he kinda tells me at times that I'm finished or I'm not. It's a very mystical experience for me.2

1. Wenger Art Gallery brochure, March 24-April 25, 1990.
2. Molly Barnes Interviews Herb Alpert. Herb Alpert Painting and Sculpture: Tango Nuevo, 1998.


I like the touch of clay. It's very tactile. I like moving clay around. Actually, I start with wax most of the time, but I like shaking and bending and searching for a shape that gives me pleasure, a shape that moves me, I try to make art that touches me deeply. I think art is about feeling.1

1. Molly Barnes Interviews Herb Alpert. Herb Alpert Painting and Sculpture: Tango Nuevo, 1998.


All photos of the Bryant Park exhibit are copyright by Rich Totoian and are reprinted with his permission. Thanks Rich!


If I were to guess why people respond to my work, if they do, it would be a sense of abandon. I think we're all looking for that kind of freedom within ourselves, to just be ourselves and respond to our feelings.

I believe in order for art to appear the artist must disappear.1

If you can let yourself go and not think about whether it's good or band and just do it for the love of doing it, you can get a lot further than if you start analyzing whether it's as good as what Michelangelo did or Rodin or Henry Moore or any of the great painters. You just be yourself.2

1. Herb Alpert: Recent Paintings. Lesley Wenger. Wenger Gallery exhibit book, December 31, 1991.
2. 'Creativity is what we need more of, if we're going to survive in this world.' Paul Freeman. San Jose Mercury News, August 17, 2011.


I think [art or music] is subjective. So many times you hear people talking about a musician they're crazy for. I'll find myself listening to them and I don't receive the message. Just because I'm not receiving "don't mean they ain't sending." You have to be on that frequency. I think you have to be into an artist...to really have an impact. I think you have to be on the artist's slipstream so to speak. You have to understand the artist. And, when you do, I think you see it in a different light and feel it in a different light. And I think there's a certain electrical field that surrounds art that you pulse to, that makes it special for you. It's like e.e.cummings said, "By every star there is a different time." I think people have an individual experience and you can't take that away from them; and the individual becomes part of the painting. I don't think it's easy to critique a painting or a piece of work for anyone; you can only do it for yourself.1

Who's to say what's good and what's bad. The point is the heartbeat and everyone has their own.2

1. Molly Barnes Interviews Herb Alpert. Herb Alpert Painting and Sculpture: Tango Nuevo, 1998.
2. Herb Alpert: Recent Paintings. Lesley Wenger. Wenger Gallery exhibit book, December 31, 1991.


The more times you can knock your craziness down, the more time you have to create. When you're relaxed, that's when you're at your best. You can be clear. You can do something. But if you're hung up on being hung up, that takes too much energy. I'm working at just being real spontaneous. Just letting whatever happens, happen.1

1. Robert W. Morgan Special of the Week Radio Show, SES-804-1, October 4, 1980.



I realized the goal is not the success and the money and the fame. The goal is doing something you really enjoy doing. I had to take an overview of my life to see if I was being honest to myself. I'm trying to find more of me because the more me I find, the more creative I am, the clearer my music becomes and the more fun I have.1

1. Star Track Profile 87-24, June 8, 1982.


Success is measured by how well you feel inside. I was willing to give everything up just to find me and decide what I wanted to do.1>

1. NewsCenter4, NBC Affiliate, Washington, DC, 1982.


Winning comes down to how you feel about your work--if it's worthwhile, not how many dollars you make.1

1. Tijuana Brass, Right? Don't Ask. Donna Perlmuter. New York Times, May 11, 1995.


I think for the most part you can plan good timing. You can plan to be at the right place at the right time. With the proper preparation and the proper understanding, you can be lucky.1

Art is timing. You're in the right place at the right time and the door cracks open for you.2

1. Entertainment Tonight, October 19, 1981.
2. A Touch of Brass. Paul Farhi. Washington Post, April 6, 2005, C1.

With Jerry Moss paying homage to Charlie Chaplin. A&M Records headquarters was the former Charlie Chaplin Studios.


As I've matured, I've grown to appreciate simplicity. It's much harder to be simple and profound than it is to be complicated.1

1. Herb Alpert on the Silence Between the Notes. Ben Fong-Torres. Gavin, 1996.


The future? I never really think much about the future. If it's the right piece of material, anyone can have a hit-even my mother, I could sign up my mother and get the right song and she could do O.K.1

1. My "Guy" Called for No Great Vocal Pipes. Alan Smith. New Musical Express, August 3, 1968.


I never wanted to get to the place where I'd just write a check and send it to some huge organization where ninety percent of the money goes to administration. So the objective became: Do something small really well. Maybe even see if we can creatively improve upon what someone else has started. And most importantly, do something that can be replicated by someone in another place.

I feel very blessed to live the life that I have, and I have an obligation and a responsibility to do the right thing. I can't speak for other musicians, but the world that I experience when I'm playing the horn, or sitting at the piano writing, is a better world than the one we're living in. It vibrates on a more beautiful level than the one I come back to when I watch the five o'clock news. But you can't just shut the curtains and draw the blinders. And a lot of people do. They pretend things aren't happening when they are. So, we gotta rattle those people. Some of them have the money, the wherewithal, to be able to reach out and help. I'd like to be a party to help stir up some of that.1

One of the reasons I started the Herb Alpert Foundation in 1982, I was thinking, 'If I can do it, you can do it. What's the big deal?' You have some extra change? Try to help others. That's been my whole pursuit.2

1. Horn of Plenty. Mark Rowland. LA Style, October 1991.
2. "It Takes a Whole Community to Create a Village" Press Release. Caroline Graham. C4 Global Communications. November 4, 2011.


All I want out of life is to be me and to respond to my intuition what this guy inside wants to do with his life. And I know it has nothing to do with dollars and cents and trying to impress people. That's a short road there.1

1. Herb Alpert Today. M. G. Kelly. Westwood One/Mutual Broadcasting System, September 12, 1988.


Artists House Music is a web site which is going to be a resource for professional musicians who graduate from Berkelee or Julliard or Manhattan School of Music or wherever. They have their diploma. Now what? This web site is going to tell them about publishing companies. How do you publish a song? What is a recording contract like? Do you need a lawyer? The job opportunities that are out there for classical musicians, for jazz musicians. The realities of what is really available.1

1. Creating That Big Break. Anna Stewart. Variety, July 13, 2006.


I zeroed in on arts and education. I'm an artist. I paint, I sculpt, I play the trumpet. I see the artists, in today's world, really have a tough time trying to express themselves, so wanted to give them a chance to express themselves.

I got the idea to try and support midterm artists--who are not quite there but just need a little shove to get over the edge. In searching, we found that CalArts was very supportive of this idea. They had ideas of their own. We collaborated.1

1. Creating That Big Break. Anna Stewart. Variety, July 13, 2006.

Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts


Music is a powerful force, and sharing music between people and cultures has the power to change the world. Students engaged in the study and performance of music can be ambassadors for a new educational paradigm.66

The landscape of music has changed so dramatically in the last few years and ways of making, delivering and sharing music have become so diverse, there needs to be a new approach to music education.

I was looking for a school that would respond to the global environment we are in now and UCLA has some real visionaries on staff who have some far-reaching, really beautiful ideas of how to put it all together.67

1. UCLA to Form Alpert School. Cynthia Littleton. Variety, November 18, 2007.
2. Herb Alpert Hits a UCLA High Note. Chris Lasales. Los Angeles Times Calendar, November 16, 2007.
UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music