Herb Alpert Is… (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)
Updated: May 21
HERB ALPERT IS… (2020)
Featuring Herb Alpert, Lani Hall, Burt Bacharach, Richard Carpenter, Bill Moyers, Questlove, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Jerry Moss, Lou Adler, Nick Ceroli, Bob Edmondson, Tonni Kalash, Lou Pagani, John Pisano, Pat Senatore, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Sir Ken Robinson, Paul Williams, Billy Bob Thornton, Aria Alpert, Eden Alpert, Randy Badazz Alpert, Bill Cantos, Chloe Flower, Kara Dio Guardi, Hussain Jiffry, Richard LaRiviere, Kristen Marvell, Eric Pryor, Michael Shapiro and Chip Tom.
Directed by John Scheinfeld.
Distributed by Abramorama. 113 minutes. Not Rated.
Herb Alpert has a very distinctive style. As a musician. As an executive. As an artist. As a philanthropist. As a man.
Herb Alpert Is… takes a look at all of these things in an attempt to show what makes the man tick. And now 85 years young (in a concert I saw him do a couple of years ago he jokingly said, “There I am before I started dying my hair gray,” while pointing to a projection of a photo of himself in the 60s), Alpert has quite a legacy to look back on.
He is mostly remembered for being one of the biggest hitmakers of the 1960s. His south-of-the-border, mostly instrumental music spawned many hits. He made Latin music palatable for the My Three Sons white bread generation. He made jazz swing up the top of the charts. He made a trumpet cool and caliente.
He had tons of hits: “Tijuana Taxi,” “The Spanish Flea,” “The Lonely Bull,” “Whipped Cream,” “Rise,” “Diamonds,” “This Guy’s in Love With You” and “A Taste of Honey.” Since they are mostly instrumentals, you may not recognize all of the titles, but if you are of a certain age, you will know all of the songs. He also got his big break co-writing Sam Cooke’s smash “Wonderful World.”
Alpert was also the “A” in A&M Records. (The “M,” his partner Jerry Moss, is interviewed extensively here, too.) Through that label, Alpert was instrumental in introducing many huge musical acts, including Sergio Mendes, the Carpenters, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Styx, Supertramp, Bryan Adams and Janet Jackson. Alpert became well known as a generous and insightful music mogul. As a musician himself, he was very open to giving the musicians complete artistic freedom and very healthy budgets for production and publicity.
Weirdly, the movie doesn’t even acknowledge Alpert and Moss’ post-A&M label – Almo Sounds – which they founded in 1994 after selling A&M to Polygram. It was certainly not the success of their previous imprint and only lasted six years. However, Almo Sounds did spawn some respected artists at the time, like Gillian Welch, Imogen Heap, Ozomatli, Bijou Phillips, Lazlo Bane and their biggest artist – multi-platinum-selling rock group Garbage. Alpert also released a few albums on the imprint.
He has also made quite a name for himself as an artist – taking hobbies of painting and sculpture and making a very profitable side light from his artistic works. (His sculptures in particular are a tiny bit of an acquired taste, but they are certainly striking.)
And now, after a life well-lived, he is very active in giving back to the communities that lifted him up.
The film is extremely well-made but occasionally a tiny bit sloppy. For example, they used the same talking-head quote by newsman Bill Moyers about Alpert in two different places in the movie. And, frankly, I would have preferred a bit more on the music and a bit less on the art and philanthropy.
However, Herb Alpert has lived a fascinating life, and Herb Alpert Is… gives this renaissance man his due as one of the underappreciated talents of the 20th Century.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2020 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 1, 2020.