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Why Is Herb Alpert Never Credited With Genius?

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Steven J. Gross

Well-Known Member
I get kind of weary reading magazine and newspaper features about the "greats" in jazz and pop trumpet. Herb is regularly passed over for people like Miles Davis or Chuck Mangione.
For my money the greatest trumpeter- artist is Herb Alpert- his beat is a treasure. The others are all way behind.
I guess you have to have been angry at the world and messed up on drugs and alcohol for the better part of your professional life to qualify as a jazz genius. And, being a philanthropist like Herb, is probably a strike against you at the Jazz Genious Selection Board.
I'm only speculating here, but I think it's because he has been wrongfully labeled as "instrumental pop" and the now-long-defunct category of "easy listening", when he clearly stated, and I quote, "I think of myself mostly as a jazz musician". I think he SHOULD be put right up there with people like Satchmo and Davis and Gillespie. :thumbsup:

As a side note, just what in the world is the difference between jazz and instrumental pop anyway? A lot artists today that call themselves jazz musicians are labeled under "instrumental pop".
Just from my own limited observation of pop vs. jazz, instrumental pop usually has the standard 4/4 and 3/4 "rock & roll" beat, whereas jazz is more freeform. Pop also has tightly structured melodies and a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-fade structure, where a jazz tune will start with a theme, then venture off into improvisation and soloing, then back to the theme--maybe.

Herb Alpert, whether he thinks of himself as a jazz musician or a pop one, has made a much bigger splash in the pop world and that's likely how he will be remembered and credited through the ages.

Of course he's a genius, but I think of him more as a genius producer, arranger and businessman than a genius trumpeter. But, he was never as high-profile in those other fields as he was as a musician. (For example, Phil Spector is much more well known as a producer than Herb will ever be.)
Whereas I may not have heard of the word "genius", I've read many articles on Herb where he is considered "shrewed", "savvy", "one of the best ears in music", "well respected", etc. Whether people liked Herb's music or not, he and Jerry Moss were highly admired by those in the music world. They were an artist's dream by giving artists the chance to develop and the room to do it in. If Herb did the Hollywood "scene" we'd probably hear a lot more about him. But that's not what he's about. So he lays low and enjoys life. Pretty genius if you ask me. :wink:

Capt. Bacardi
NP: Chicago - Christmas Album
I've been captivated by Herb Alpert's trumpet playing from the start...The Lonely Bull. Here we are some 40 years plus since TLB, and I'm still thrilled, and "moved" by his trumpet playing. Just the other day, I heard "Lonely Bull" on AM, yes, AM radio, and it brought a smile to my face as I turned up the volume to hear Herb's smooth, unique style. He really does use his horn, as he himself has said, as a voice. If you're amateur trumpet player like me, or even if you're a pro, you certainly can appreciate Herb's ability on the horn...it's an extension of his personality. He's been copied but never duplicated. I believe Herb is an extraordinary musician, arranger, & composer. Unfortunately, much like his lovely wife Lani, Herb Alpert has not received the recognition he truely deserves as a great jazz artist. I hope that his greatness, his genious will be soon be recognized. He belongs among his fellow jazz giants including the very special Louie Armstrong, and Miles Davis. They're all different and all of them great.

Tom :D
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