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Movie Review: Herb Alpert Is…

This week for “Close-Up with Camenker”,  Zach reviews . . . HERB ALPERT IS…! (May 21, 2021)

Click here for the blurb and viewing link of HERB ALPERT IS…!

When I was 13 years old, my father, a lover of all kinds of music and a kid of the 60s and 70s, gave me a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Album as a birthday gift. At the time, I was playing trumpet in my middle school band and flourishing in the creative arts as an active thespian and member of my school district’s boys’ chorus. I remember putting the album in my purple boom box and getting lost in the rhythm and melody of Alpert’s tunes.

I’ve always been an old soul and still have that album, occasionally popping it into my walkman as a salute to the start of my adolescent years and continued love of the arts. Though I only kept at the trumpet for one more year, I still adore the sound of “big band” music.

Recently, I came across the new documentary HERB ALPERT IS… which has been available in Red River’s Virtual Cinema for several months. When I finally took the time to watch it, it did not disappoint.

The piece traces Alpert, who was 84 at the time of filming, throughout his career as a musician. It also highlights his little known art and sculpting talents and vast philanthropic efforts, pieces of him that the world likely knows little about.

A life-long Californian who was born on March 31, 1935 in Los Angeles, Alpert is the son of Jewish immigrants. While the film does little to address his parents or his heritage, Alpert does mention that his father arrived in the United States at age 16, having traveled alone on a boat and not speaking a word of English.

While we have heard similar immigrant stories throughout time, I still marvel any time someone recounts details such as that as they truly exemplify the fulfillment of the American Dream.

Another interesting piece about Alpert is that at some point or other, many, including me, think that he is of Mexican or Hispanic descent. As the documentary notes, given his work with the Tijuana Brass and their style of music, many fans initially thought Alpert changed his name from something like “Alberto Martinez” to a more American sounding name as other artists have done in the past.

I learned a great deal watching the film, most especially about Alpert’s humanitarianism and heart of gold. It also did a great job tracing how deeply affected Alpert was by a standstill in his career after a meteoric rise to fame, rather unprecedented for an instrumental artist.

The documentary details the latter very well, interviewing Alpert in depth as he recounts how the ups and downs of fame, fortune, and family all collided at one point, bringing him much doubt and a lot of difficulty in playing his trumpet. 

Despite this challenge, which lasted longer than he would have liked, Alpert eventually bounced back and carried on a fruitful career that continues to this day. Following the end of his  first marriage, he married fellow musician Lani Hall, who he has been with for nearly 50 years and who has evidently been his rock.

Alpert himself inspires in watching this piece, but most especially for all the philanthropic work he has done for arts organizations, creative arts education, other musicians, and through his passion for art and sculpting.

Though a bit long, this film has something for everyone. It is a rather typical presentation of a famous artist, but the man being presented is one worth spending nearly two hours with.

I can guarantee you’ll be humming along and snapping your fingers to the rhythm and beat of Alpert’s amazing work when you finish!

Stay tuned for Volume XIII, which will appear on Friday, June 4. Next film to be determined.”


Click here to learn more about Zach Camenker!

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