So far, so good. It’s been almost five decades since the rise of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band on the radio and in the music charts, and 35 years since the trumpeter’s last monster pop hit, “Rise,” broke every music record. But the 79-year-old jazz veteran has no plans of slowing down the hit machine. Last January, he won his ninth Grammy for the 2013 album, Steppin’ Out — in the “Best Pop Instrumental” category — with his single “Puttin’ On The Ritz” making the mainstream rounds.
On September 30, Alpert released the much-anticipated album In The Mood [Shout! Factory] with his producer nephew Randy Badazz (“Rise”), his singer wife Lani Hall (Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66), and Alpert’s long-time band — drummer Michael Shapiro, keyboardist Bill Cantos, and bassist Hussain Jiffry. The album features a ready-made-hit in the updated, electronica cover of “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” As soon as In The Mood dropped, the album of updated covers and originals shot straight to the top on iTunes, Amazon, and everywhere else good, melodic music’s appreciated.
Naturally, Alpert, Hall, and their band launched on October 11th a major In The Mood U.S. Tour of 13 cities to support his 40th album, including stops throughout California, Honolulu, Maui, and Seattle’s Jazz Alley (November 13-16).
The continued popularity of the man who also built the recording empire A&M Records with Jerry Moss is built on the tenets of good music: a catchy hook, melody, and groove. Alpert has repeatedly stressed these tenets in his many interviews, especially during his recent press junket for In The Mood. This is a musician who must feel the music to play it. He once dared to slow down the beats in the Disco Age for the 1979 hit single, “Rise,” to grab onto the melody and showcase it as only he could.
Nothing’s changed. The melody maker’s formula, if one can call it that, has worked for him. In a September 30th AXS interview, Alpert spoke about that tendency. “…I’m always trying to do something that’s a little bit different than the time before. Not really knowing what that’s gonna be like until I get there but, you know, I try to be as honest as I can as an artist,” he said in a phone interview. “I think one of the things that are holding a lot of these records back in today’s world is there’s so many opportunities to clean up the intonation or change a phrase, or manipulate it, because of the digital style of recording. And sometimes, the artists tend to take the heart out of a piece, because they try to over-sanitize it. And I’ve been very conscious of that, … if it feels good, I stop no matter what stage I’m in. But that’s the measure for me.”
Herb Alpert can’t wait to hit the stage for four glorious nights at Seattle’s own iconic Jazz Alley next month, with his wife of almost 41 years and his trusty band of eight. “We played at Jazz Alley twice before. I love the venue, the sound is really good in there, the people are always enthusiastic, and I’m looking forward to it. Of course, the salmon is not too bad, either [laughs].”
Don’t be surprised if all his Jazz Alley shows are already sold out by the end of this week. That’s what happens to artists who’ve captured the pulse of good music — and the heart of the audience. Call (206) 441-9729 for reservations.