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News Herb Alpert Is... Documentary Comments and Impressions

Nathan Strum

Active Member
I bought it on iTunes yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I thought they did a great job covering Herb's life and there was a nice focus on how art has driven him to be who he his. Sure, it could've been an hour (or more) longer if they wanted to delve into more of the music he's created since Rise (now 40 years ago!!), but this was meant to be more of a biography than a music retrospective, and I think it succeeded admirably.

There were some really powerful moments in there, and there were quite a few things I learned that I didn't know. For people only aware of Herb as the leader of the TJB, this will be quite the revelation. It only made me respect Herb and his accomplishments even more. (Minor quibble - it would've been nice if Randy could've watched his language. As the only one dropping an F-bomb in the movie, I thought it made him look immature in comparison with everyone else, and it seemed really out of place given the tone of the entire film. And yes, I'm an old fuddy-duddy.)
 

Mike Blakesley

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Staff member
Moderator
I hadn't heard about that BBC documentary before. I sort of skimmed over it just now and spotted one section where "copyrighted material deleted" appears on the screen. Hope that doesn't happen TOO much in it!

I decided to wait to watch that until after I've seen the new doc... sounds like both will be keepers.
 
I’m a fan so, of course, I liked it. But it did seem to be more long form ad than documentary. Couldve/shouldve talked about the groundbreaking recording tech for Rise. Couldve delved more into Polygram sale, lawsuit, and retain of masters. Could talked about The Wrecking Crew. Couldve talked about theater producing. Almo Sounds, and now influence of digital on music today. That said, when on dvd or bluray I’ll likely purchase.

Sadly I note that the boxcset remains extremely expensive - a missed opportunity to grow a new audience.

Sure would love the tv specials on a disc !
 

Rudy

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I'm surprised Almo Sounds wasn't mentioned, but on the other hand, many of these topics are of no interest to most viewers. Nobody except forum members and technology buffs care how Rise was recorded. It's more of a general audience documentary, not something geared to completists, collectors, etc.. There might still be some limitations (or ill feelings) about the Polygram/Seagram's situation, so that could be why they passed on it.
 

Mike Blakesley

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I'm sure they could easily assemble a four-hour version from additional info and footage that's in the can.... Herb has had an extremely busy, productive life!
 

Rudy

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I wouldn't want it any longer than it already is--it's nearly two hours as-is. An extended disc with a lot of bonus footage would be welcome addition though. It could keep the minutiae out of the main documentary that most of the audience doesn't care to see.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
I think Herb was Very Generous to allow this Documentary to be made to Begin with. And again I For one am Extremely thankful for what has been made available and I already ordered my DVD as I mentioned before currently the status says " Preparing for shipping with a estimated date of October 20 it might be later but its OK at some point it will arrive and be well worth it after all we waited a long time for our beloved reissues and well worth it in my opinion and this DVD falls into that category
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
We saw it last night (streaming on Amazon Prime) and LOVED it. As I've mentioned over the years, my wife is a singer/musician who appreciated Herb and Lani but wasn't a massive fan. Seeing them in Napa on February 29th (our last major public outing before lockdown) changed that and the documentary sealed it.

My thoughts:

I LOVED that there were photos I'd never seen before. Some amazing stuff!

The outtakes from the "Brass are Comin'" TV special were tough and very brave of Herb to put out there. You can just see the pain in his eyes between takes. You can sense that something huge has changed in the year and few months since the "Beat of the Brass" special.

And Lani and Herb finally told the REAL story about their relationship! Fifty-one years is long enough to be coy, and there's nothing more romantic than him driving from his house for the last time to Lani's and telling her "I can't live without you".

If there's ever a director's cut that gets into the weeds on things like WARM, SUMMERTIME, JUST YOU AND ME, what exactly it took to climb back from a place that would (and has) crushed lesser artists and humans, I'll absolutely pay to screen it again.

If not, I'm satisfied. This was an exceptionally well-done film about an exceptional person and I'm glad he's here to see it, to enjoy its success and to (hopefully) see our smiling faces in seats when it's safe to tour again.
 

beatcomber

Member
There were some aspects of the doc that I found unsatisfying, but overall I was left with quite a few positive impressions:

• Herb Alpert sure seems like a really good guy.

• As my wife would say in her typically Japanese philosophical way, Herb Alpert can die with no regrets. Even at 85 years old, he continues living a full, productive, and creative life.

• Herb Alpert seems pretty much unimpressed with himself (which is a very healthy attitude), and that goes a long way towards explaining why he hasn't stopped creating and evolving. He is continuously reaching for a higher level of being.

Much respect to you, Mr. Alpert.
 

Rudy

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Herb Alpert seems pretty much unimpressed with himself (which is a very healthy attitude), and that goes a long way towards explaining why he hasn't stopped creating and evolving. He is continuously reaching for a higher level of being.
That is my impression also. I get the feeling he is grateful, yet somewhat detached from and bemused by it all, perhaps even still a bit baffled as to how he got to this point (I know I would be!). The intense fame didn't fit his style, as we know what happened once the original TJB had their incredibly successful run. He'd rather make music, paint and sculpt but otherwise fly under the radar. I also don't blame him for his privacy--I roll that way myself. Keeps life low-key and low-stress.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
That is my impression also. I get the feeling he is grateful, yet somewhat detached from and bemused by it all, perhaps even still a bit baffled as to how he got to this point (I know I would be!). The intense fame didn't fit his style, as we know what happened once the original TJB had their incredibly successful run. He'd rather make music, paint and sculpt but otherwise fly under the radar. I also don't blame him for his privacy--I roll that way myself. Keeps life low-key and low-stress.
Think about this----other than Sergio's burst of pique when Lani left Brasil '66, when have you EVER heard anyone say anything negative about Herb Alpert?

How many other people, famous or not, can you say that about?
 

Mike Blakesley

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have you EVER heard anyone say anything negative about Herb Alpert?
In my early music business days I played a lot of TJB in the store. Our store was a "room" located in the middle of a larger auto parts store (we had been trying to cash in on the new car stereo craze and we expanded from there). The auto parts guys had a universal dislike for TJB music. But in their defense, I probably overplayed it... a little.

I remember when Warm came out, I put that on and one of the older guys came in during the beginning of "Sea is my Soil" and said "This is pretty good, who's this?" I said "Tijuana Brass," and he said "Really?!? I kind of like this." Then it got to the uptempo part and he just went "Oh." Guess that was more what he was expecting.
 

badazz

Active Member
Industry Member
I bought it on iTunes yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I thought they did a great job covering Herb's life and there was a nice focus on how art has driven him to be who he his. Sure, it could've been an hour (or more) longer if they wanted to delve into more of the music he's created since Rise (now 40 years ago!!), but this was meant to be more of a biography than a music retrospective, and I think it succeeded admirably.

There were some really powerful moments in there, and there were quite a few things I learned that I didn't know. For people only aware of Herb as the leader of the TJB, this will be quite the revelation. It only made me respect Herb and his accomplishments even more. (Minor quibble - it would've been nice if Randy could've watched his language. As the only one dropping an F-bomb in the movie, I thought it made him look immature in comparison with everyone else, and it seemed really out of place given the tone of the entire film. And yes, I'm an old fuddy-duddy.)
Sorry about the language Nathan but the story I told regarding the Carpenters is exactly what the promotion and marketing people were saying at this promo meeting in 1970. I wasn't going to gloss it over, use nicer words and be polite because that would not have been the truth. As a matter of fact, the language I heard that day included several more choice words. And I was about 14 years old at the time.
 

Nathan Strum

Active Member
Thanks for the reply Randy - I appreciate your honesty and welcomed your perspectives in the documentary. It sounds like it was amazing to grow up around Herb, A&M, and everything that was happening there at that time. My only issue with that particular point in the film is that I'd have a hard time unabashedly recommending the doc to some people I know who are fans of the TJB, without having to issue a "heads-up" to them about the language, knowing their sensitivity to it. But those are just some of the circles I travel within. (As a point of contrast, I work at CalArts. So those are some of the other circles I travel within. 😎 )
 

Rudy

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Sorry about the language Nathan but the story I told regarding the Carpenters is exactly what the promotion and marketing people were saying at this promo meeting in 1970. I wasn't going to gloss it over, use nicer words and be polite because that would not have been the truth. As a matter of fact, the language I heard that day included several more choice words. And I was about 14 years old at the time.
I'd heard of the same "response" to Carpenters via a couple of other books or articles I read, and figured you were holding back on what was really said. 😁
 

Rudy

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A&M has really never had a full (and official) documentary that I can think of. A lot of its early fortunes are of course tied to Herb's success, but so many great people came on board to steer A&M in to the 70s and 80s. Such a diverse catalog, too.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
I'd heard of the same "response" to Carpenters via a couple of other books or articles I read, and figured you were holding back on what was really said. 😁
What surprised me was, even after Carpenters established themselves as consistent hitmakers and moneymakers for the label, how many folks at A&M were rooting for them to fail. They cared about a hip image more than they did the millions of dollars coming in from one act.
 

John-NJ

Member
As a life-long fan of Herb, I thought the documentary was very well done and very long overdue. I love success stories like this.

I started playing the trumpet in the 4th grade, and continued through high school. I took private music lessons from a teacher who studied under Carmine Caruso. And I played from the Arban's book. :)

There was a scene in the documentary where Herb was sitting at a piano, explaining how "The Lonely Bull" got started. That footage was from an interview he did with Bruce Morrow (a.k.a. Cousin Brucie) for WNBC-TV around 1975. I still have the original audio recording I made of that interview. This was the only time I have seen a video clip of that interview since it originally aired.

I felt the scene with Herb and Lani on the beach at sunset was intentionally similar to the scene he shot with his first wife during the "Beat of the Brass" special. It may have been during the earlier BBC documentary where Bob Edmonson referred to that scene as being a large contributor to "This Guy's" popularity.

The scenes inside of A&M were ones I had never seen before. Very cool...

I thought it was very touching that John Pisano wanted to support Herb when he experienced difficulty playing, considering John's reluctance to join the touring band when it first started.

We know that among his many talents, Herb can sing, and play the trumpet, and play the PIANO. If Herb were to do a Volume 4 where he re-imagines his work after the TJB, I think his piano rendition of "Rise" could be the title track. Just sayin' :wink:

Looking forward to the release of the TV specials...


John-NJ
 

Rudy

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What surprised me was, even after Carpenters established themselves as consistent hitmakers and moneymakers for the label, how many folks at A&M were rooting for them to fail. They cared about a hip image more than they did the millions of dollars coming in from one act.
I can't remember the exact wording, or where I read it, but someone in management once told the members of Supertramp (probably embarrassed to be on the same label) to turn to whichever direction Carpenters were at and thank them for the opportunity their success gave bands like Supertramp.
 
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