(MPG) Legendary musician, artist, and record label executive Herb Alpert has released his new album Wish Upon A Star. Throughout Wish Upon A Star, Herb's 49th studio album, he shows what it means to stretch and personalize an enduring melody. He explores songs written in different eras of pop music history, from venerable Great American Songbook standards ("On the Street Where You Live," rendered as a bossa nova) to torch songs (a sultry "Angel Eyes") to Beatles classics ("And I Love Her") to effortlessly levitating jazz waltzes ("Waltz For Stan," written by Alpert's longtime collaborator Eddie del Barrio).
On opening track and lead single "East Bound and Down," written by Jerry Reed and known as the theme song for the classic action-comedy movie Smokey and the Bandit, Alpert revisits the buoyant, upbeat sound of the Tijuana Brass Band with its gliding, lane-changing energy. The song was praised by Billboard, American Songwriter, and JAZZIZ among others.
From a certain angle, Alpert's storied career is an example of an inspiration circuit, showing the many ways great songs unlock the sometimes-elusive state of inspiration for artists - and then, in turn, open the hearts of listeners. A&M started in 1962 as a home for Alpert's Tijuana Brass projects, but within a few years grew into an unusually creative independent imprint, releasing landmark records by Wes Montgomery, Antonio Carlos Jobim, The Police, Joan Armatrading and many others. Wish glances at this legacy, with covers of the Carpenters hit "We've Only Just Begun" and Cat Stevens' "Father and Son."
"I signed the Carpenters to A&M," Alpert says, recalling that some at the label expressed doubts about the wholesome duo. "I found them, and I remember the first time I heard them I loved them. They knew how to put songs across."
Working on "Father and Son" brought Alpert into a nostalgic reverie. "I saw him [Cat Stevens] when he was starting out. Just him and guitar - total knockout. The songs all had a calm depth to them, and the way he expressed himself was overwhelming. Of all the artists we had on A&M, Cat was unusually special."
In the next breath, Alpert quickly adds that he isn't typically nostalgic, and doesn't spend much time dwelling on the past. "It sounds cliché but I'm just completely excited when I get up in the morning to create something, and grateful for the chance to do it."
Herb Alpert continues to tour with his wife Lani Hall, and recently completed a sold out week of dates at London's legendary Ronnie Scott's, plus made his Grand Ole Opry debut. With those performances, alongside the release of Wish Upon A Star, Herb's wishes have continued to come true; he is still making and performing great music, well into his 80s. Alpert recently celebrated his 88th birthday.
Herb Alpert & Lani Hall tour dates:
September 16 - Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre
September 17 - Cleveland, OH @ Playhouse Square
September 19 - Minneapolis, MN @Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
September 20 - Iowa City, IA @ The Englert Theatre
September 21 - Kansas City, MO @ Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
October 14 - Denver, CO @ The Newman Center For The Performing Arts
October 15 - Grand Junction, CO @ Avalon Theatre
October 17 - Boise, ID @ The Egyptian Theatre
October 18 - Portland, OR @Revolution Hall
October 20 - Tacoma, WA @ Tacoma Arts Live
October 21 - Seattle, WA @ Edmonds Center for the Arts