Herb Alpert

The iconic, upbeat, enormously popular 1960s sound of the Tijuana Brass is just one of trumpeter Herb Alpert's legacies. His songwriting (Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" and the doo-wop classic "Alley Oop" are his work), his co-stewardship (with Jerry Moss) of A&M Records from 1962 to 1993 and his role as producer of Tony Kushner's play Angels in America are also significant cultural contributions. Alpert is a eight-time Grammy winner, and much celebrated as a recording industry giant. But his nomination to the Jazz Journalists Association's "A Team" is due specifically to his commitment to jazz.

This commitment has been demonstrated in myriad ways. Examples: the jaunty sound of his horn, the adventurous music on A&M's Horizon imprint, his establishment of the Dizzy Gillespie Chair in Music and Recording Studio at California Institute of the Arts. Then there are the Alpert Awards in the Arts (which has granted handsome support to James Carter, George Lewis, Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris, Miya Masaoka and Mark Feldman, among others), the contribution of $30 million he and his wife, singer Lani Hall, made to the University of California, Los Angeles founding and endowing the Herb Alpert School of Music and the $15 million they donated in 2008, to California Institute for the Arts for its music curriculum. The Herb Alpert Foundation (established in 1982) has provided financial assistance to education from pre-K to 12, and financed many notable projects. Estimations of of Alpert's overall philanthropy top $100 million.

Though the munificence of such gifts is itself striking, the funds mean even more coming from a life-long player who in spring of 2009, at age 75, embarked on a tour with Ms. Hall, performing jazz live as they do on the first album they've recorded together, Anything Goes. Set for summer release by Concord Records, their music contains surprises: On the title track, the arrangement of Cole Porter's melody and lyrics is underlaid by a piano part referencing Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso."

The Alperts have been named recipients of the Society of Singers's 18th Ella Award; their mantel must be groaning with statuettes attesting to the gratitude of audiences as well as artists, schools and students who have benefitted from their generosity. But the JJA hopes they will find another couple inches in which to place the "A Team" Award, which is confered with profound respect and happy memories of trumpets -- Herb Alpert's trumpet -- harmonized with a tinge of Mexican mariachi, bounding over irresistible modern beats, emphasizing  core values of memorable song. -- Howard Mandel

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