You see this guy? You may remember his trumpet but probably not his voice, although he did sing on one of his two number 1 hits. Herb Alpert led the Tijuana Brass, a band of crack session players, through the incidental music of the 1960s. He is the A in A&M Records. The upcoming documentary Herb Alpert Is… will chronicle Alpert’s 60-year career as bandleader, producer, label executive, musician, philanthropist, and visual artist. It will have its live streaming premiere screening on Oct. 1. It will hit theaters and VOD on Oct. 2, 2020, the same day as a Herb Alpert Is… 68-track box set.
Herb Alpert Is… was directed by John Scheinfeld, who made Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, and The U.S. vs. John Lennon. The documentary is “a passionate and inspiring exploration of Alpert’s personal and creative journey that reveals the critical events, experiences and challenges that have shaped an extraordinary life and instilled deep within the Grammy-winning trumpeter the desire to make a difference each and every day, according to the press statement. Herb Alpert Is…was originally slated to hit theaters in May, but was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The trailer features cameos from artists who worked with Alpert, like Questlove and Billy Moyers. Alpert appears throughout the film. “Herb Alpert is a cultural icon,” Sting says in the trailer. Herb Alpert music played in space. When Lorelei Gilmore had to break bad news in Gilmore Girls, she broke out the Tijuana Brass.
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass scored a Top 10 hit with their first single, “The Lonely Bull.” They proved an instrumental act based around a trumpet could fill arenas. They were one of the highest-paid musical acts by the mid-sixties. They scored 14 platinum albums and six Grammy awards before they disbanded in 1969.
Alpert made the history books. He made more money selling records than The Beatles, the trailer points out. In 1962, he took the money he earned as a musician and founded A&M Records with Jerry Moss. The record company signed hit-making artists like Peter Frampton, Cat Stevens, Janet Jackson, Burt Bacharach, The Police, Joe Cocker, Cheech & Chong, Carole King, Quincy Jones, Sergio Mendes, the Carpenters, Bryan Adams, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Tim Curry did the rock for A&M. Supertramp had breakfast in America.
Alpert was a musician’s record executive. In the trailer Billy Bob Thornton says “Herb Alpert is butter.” A&M Records one of the most successful independent record labels of the classic rock era. It got Alpert and Moss elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, even though their music wasn’t rock and roll.
Scheinfeld also directed a documentary on Sergio Mendes, which will be coming out soon. Alpert’s wife Lani Hall started out as a member of Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, one of the bands signed to A&M Records.
Alpert won nine Grammys between 1966 and 2014. He earned 15 gold and 14 platinum records. Alpert is also an abstract painter, sculptor and supporter of educational programs in the arts nationwide, from the Harlem School of the Arts and Los Angeles City College to CalArts and UCLA. President Obama presented him with the National Medal of Arts in 2012. Alpert’s most recent album, Over the Rainbow from 2019, debuted at Number One on the Billboard Jazz and Contemporary Jazz album charts.
The Herb Alpert Is… box set collection is not officially a soundtrack. But the 63 tracks fill in the gaps of Alpert’s six-decade catalog. Both the three-CD and five-LP versions of the boxed set will include 180 pages of photos and liner notes. The vinyl version presents the liner notes as a coffee table book.
Herb Alpert Is… will have its live streaming premiere screening on Oct. 1. The documentary will hit theaters and VOD on Oct. 2, the same day as the box set.