Herb Albert Readies New Album by Marc Myers
Herb Albert, 79, is still at it today. At the end of 1965, he went head to head with Bob Dylan and the Beatles. His album climbed to No. 1 in 1965 and his albums in each of the next three years topped the charts. More than 40 years later (January, 2014), he won his ninth Grammy for “Steppin’ Out,” and on September 30 he will release “In the Mood.” (Excerpts from the interview below)
Q: A remake of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” might be stretching it, no?
A: The Glenn Miller song from 1941 just popped into my head and stayed there. A number of people, including my wife, Lani Hall, told me not to record it, that it was too square. But the song felt good and I’ve made a career out of doing what feels good to me. If a song works and it’s honest, people will get it.
Q: Does it bother you to be thought of as the “king of casual?”
There’s a word called “happy.” I’ve always wanted to be that, and my music and trumpet reflect this ambition. I listened to jazz when I was young, but I have a classical background and studied formally for eight years. I just react to what sounds good and try to stay as spontaneous as possible. I’ve never rehearsed most of the songs I’ve recorded. I have relative pitch, so if I hear a song once, I can play it back instantly. Mostly, I try to be honest and listen to my inner voice.
Q: Was “Rise’s” success in 1979 unexpected?
A: Everything in this business is unexpected. My nephew and producer-songwriter Randy Alpert initially wanted me to turn Tijuana Brass hits into dance records. It just didn’t feel right but I gave it a shot. I brought in musicians and we played down a disco version of a “Taste of Honey.” I couldn’t feel it. Randy had written “Rise” [with Andy Armer] and wanted us to do it at 120 beats per minute—the standard disco tempo back then. But I slowed it down to 100 beats, giving it more of a soulful feel, and it worked.
Q: How do you feel when someone calls your music cheesy?
A: [Laughs] They’re thinking too hard. Art is a mystery. There’s no way you can figure out what’s special if you analyze it. You either feel it or you don’t. The definition of art isn’t breaking your neck. Why would you do that? Honesty and passion are everything—at least they are for me.
Read Full Interview in wsj.com here: Herb Albert Readies New Album by Marc Myers
Find Herb Alpert’s New Album here: In the Mood.