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Herb Alpert: Come Fly with Me

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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With his latest recording, Come Fly with Me, legendary award-winning trumpeter, producer, artist and overall Renaissance Man, Herb Alpert takes the listener on a melody-rich, groove-embellished artistic journey, offering marvelous musical perspectives and insights with both familiar and exciting new sonic landscapes.

All About Jazz: Herb, on behalf of all About Jazz, it's great speaking with you again. Thanks for taking time to speak with us about Come Fly with Me.

Herb Alpert: My pleasure, Nick.

AAJ: First off, as a fellow trumpet player, I have to tell you that you sound great on it -like you're having a lot of fun with this particular album.

HA: Thanks. Well, I feel good and I'm having a good time -that's the important ingredient. I have fun on every album. You know, every time I finish a project—an album, or whatever you call it these days, I say "You know, it's the best thing I've ever done."

AAJ: It sounds it.

HA: Yeah, I used to bore my partner, Jerry Moss at A&M Records with that comment. I try to do my best; to do things that I haven't done on previous albums. So, yes, this is "the best one I've ever done."

AAJ: There are really interesting and unique grooves on this album with some reggae things and other unique types of rhythmic textures.

HA: Yeah. We wanted to do that and explore things. I think we succeeded.

AAJ: Was your wife, Lani Hall on this album.

HA: No, she wasn't this time. She was on the last one, In the Mood.

AAJ: Who produced the album?

HA: You're talking to him.

AAJ: I've got to ask you about "Take the 'A' Train" and the incredibly unique way you present it. I've never heard it that way before. It floored me.

HA: Yeah, "Take the 'A' Train" is really cool. I've always remembered the story about Billy Strayhorn -that he hated Nat "King" Cole's version of "Lush Life." Years ago in the 60s, I was walking down the sidewalk on Sunset Boulevard and I ran into Charlie Warren, who had written "I Only Have Eyes for You." Now at that time, The Flamingos had the #1 record in the country with it. I said to him: "You've got to be happy, Charlie. You have the #1 record in the country." And, he said: "I hate that record!"

AAJ: How did the unique groove on "Take the 'A' Train" come about? It's in 3, isn't it? Was it your idea?

HA: Yes. I've had that idea in mind for awhile. I was working on it. And, I played it on the horn for Mike Shapiro and Hussein Jiffry, who played drums and bass on it. Every so often, I do something and I say to myself: "Man, that's really good." To my knowledge, it's never been played or recorded that way.

AAJ: In my humble opinion, I think that the arrangement and presentation on that cut is so unique, it's Grammy®-worthy. That's no "smoke."

HA: Thanks. I like to take familiar songs and present them in a different way that they haven't been played before. I feel really good about that one.

AAJ: You composed a handful of originals on Come Fly with Me.

HA: Yeah, "Love Affair," "Windy City," "Cheeky," "Walkin' Tall" and "Night Ride" are mine.

AAJ: And, you have GAS tunes on there such as "Blue Skies," "Come Fly with Me" and you close with "Danny Boy."

HA: Well, "Danny Boy," you know, is public domain. And "Come Fly with Me"—Sinatra is the one who really highlighted that song. It's a great Jimmy Van Heusen song. What I wanted to do with it was sort of take it to the Caribbean. So, after the bridge, I have the pans—the steel drums playing.

AAJ: That's a great touch.

HA: I don't know if I told you this the last time, but, back in 1962 when I had "Lonely Bull"—it was the Top 10 record that started A&M Records—I got a letter from a lady from Germany who wrote: "Dear Mr. Alpert: Thank you for sending me on this vicarious trip to Tijuana!" So, at the time, I chuckled, as you just did, and I thought to myself: "Man, you know, that music was so visual to her that it transported her." I like to make visual music, as opposed to music that you'd hear in the elevator. I mean that that music is not good or not bad. It's just there, you know.

AAJ: It's funny you mention that because I listened to "Night Ride" many times and that's exactly the same kind of impression I got. It's highly visual and stimulating music. It reminded me of film music.

HA: My wife, Lani, wants me to do that. She says my music has that visual quality. I've had my songs in movies, but, I can't or want to write to time or anything.

AAJ: Well, with the art that you also do, the visual sense is probably in your DNA. By the way, who did the unique cover art, you?

HA: No, it was done by Brian Porizek. He had a great concept there with the birds flying and, when she saw it, Lani had the idea to add the trumpet. So, the birds are flying from the bell of the trumpet. It's a nice touch.

AAJ: You do one of The Beatles tunes, "Something" on this recording.

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