Saturday, February 28, 2009

Loco Boy makes Good (1942)

This Three Stooges short is a pleasant entry and a personal favorite. There are two interesting side stories that make the film unique. First a bit about the story.

The boys' adventure start out when Stooge regular, Bud Jamison, throws them out of a hotel. A plan to slip on a bar of soap and collect damage money goes nowhere, but the boys run into a nice old lady trying to run a dilapidated hotel, Ye Olde Pilgrim Hotel. A nasty collection agent, Scroggins, played by a great sourpuss, Walter Soderling, gets his comeuppance by the boys.

The next few scenes give our heroes the usual "repair" gags: hammering, nailing and laying linoleum. The highlight of the short is when the hotel reopens as the Chisel Inn Hotel. The boys, now Nill, Null and Void, the performing waiters, are the star attractions in the Kokonuts Grove. The famous columnist Waldo Twitchell (John Tyrell) and his date, Dorothy Appleby (a Columbia favorite with the Stooges, Buster Keaton and other comics) attend the opening and thanks to a mix-up with a magician's coat, Curly and the boys become a hit with their antics.

Curly also gets to show off his dancing skill. In his early days, he frequented many New York ballrooms and does some great eccentric stepping with the cute Dorothy as his partner. Playing the part of customers and dancers are a great collection of Columbia stock actors. I spotted Bob Burns, Eddie Laughton (a great bit as a drunken diner), Victor Travers, ElinorVandivere (part of Twitchell's party), Al Thompson, Johnny Kascier, Lynton Brent and Heinie Conklin. All these actors were talented supporting players and comedy veterans. The Stooges' favorite dowager, Symona Boniface, has a great bit when a mouse from the magicians' coat goes down her back. Her reaction is a great series of contortions and tremors. Another Stooge stalwart, Vernon Dent, appears briefly as Balbo the Magician whose coat (full of surprises) gets mixed up with Curly's.

That brings us to the first side story. The film was co-written by Felix Adler and Clyde Bruckman, two old comedy pros. Bruckman, who wrote for Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, was at a low point in his career due to alcoholism. He had a habit of recycling gags from older movies he wrote or directed. The bit with the magician's coat came from the Harold Lloyd film, Movie Crazy (1932). Lloyd sued Adler, Bruckman and producer Jules White for$ 500,000 in damages. In 1946, he won his case. He also won a suit for a million from Universal Pictures for more Bruckman recycling. This brought Bruckman's career down further and after doing some TV work (including the Abbott and Costello show) he committed suicide in 1955. A sad ending for a man who brought so much laughter to the world.

The other side story involves the music used in the nightclub scenes. For years I enjoyed this hot swing music-we never see the band-but never knew its origins. The two selections are heard during Curly's great jitterbugging. One tune is an untitled instrumental; the other is Rockin' the Town (1938) by Ted Koehler and Johnny Green. This came from a Columbia feature, Start Cheering, which also featured the Stooges. In the film Gertrude Niesen sang it along with co-writer Johnny Green's band. Benny Goodman also performed the tune on a broadcast. The version in Loco Boy was lifted from a Blondie film from 1939, Blondie meets the Boss. These tunes were played by Skinny Ennis' band during a dance contest sequence. Columbia, always the spendthrift, simply used the Ennis music for the Stooges' nightclub scenes. The studio got more mileage out of Rockin' the Town. In a 1956 Columbia horror film, The Werewolf, we hear the song (the Ennis version) on a juke box at a local bar & grill. We have talked about Columbia's "chicanery" in the past and this is a perfect example.

Three verbal classics deserve a mention. When Moe instructs Curly to mingle with the guests, his threat is, "Mingle or I'll Mangle!" Waiter Larry is asked if he has Patty de Facquer. Larry retorts, "I'll see if the band can play it!". And during the nightclub scene, Moe gets to sing a bit of She was Bred in Old Kentucky-But She's just a Crumb Up Here.

Loco Boy Makes Good is available on DVD as part of Sony's Three Stooges collection(Vol.3). Looks like the entire series is on it's way.

Till our next adventure-Keep Stooging!.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

Continuing our series of Hollywood jazz and swing movies, we come to one of the most popular film bios, Universal's The Glenn Miller Story. Although full of the usual historical inaccuracies and laughable dialog, the film combines great storytelling, a wonderful love story and superb music, resulting in top entertainment.

The real Glenn Miller (1904-44) was a talented trombonist, arranger and a sharp businessman who plied his trade for years as a sideman (Ben Pollack, the Dorsey Brothers, Red Nichols and Ray Noble) led several unsuccessful bands, then hit a style and sound that captured the country. At the height of his success, he gave up the great riches and celebrity to serve the war effort leading a great service band to entertain the troops. He would lose his life immersed in this endeavor.

This real Miller was stern, taciturn and removed from his musicians. James Stewart as Glenn is portrayed as affable, hardworking and likable. (Hollywood didn't have any use for the real Miller). The respected critic and writer, George Simon, a good friend of Miller praised June Allyson's portrayal of Helen Miller and the accurate bond between them as shown in the film. The film pulls all the right strings and deserves the continued success it has enjoyed these 50-plus years.

First and foremost is the music. It is expertly played by some of the best Hollywood studio players (many Miller alums) such as Willie Schwartz (portrayed in the film), John Best, Zeke Zarchy, Babe Russin and Paul Tanner (both appear in the film), Mannie Klein and Rolly Bundock. Joseph Gershenson, Universal's music director supervised the adaptations with a great assist from Henry Mancini. Henry had a short stateside stint with the Air Force band and worked with Tex Beneke's postwar Miller band. He was very familiar with the style. Mancini also contributed a beautiful ballad, Too Little Time, which was used as a recurring love theme in the film. Glenn's first name band association was with Ben Pollack. Ben appears as himself getting to show some of his great drum work. (He had a similar role in the Benny Goodman Story.) The one and only Louis Armstrong appears in a great jam session sequence when Glenn and Helen are just married and go to Harlem to hear Pops. (Glenn, like every musician in the 20s, idolized Louis). Helen, not aware of jazz asks "Who's He?"-Glenn's terse response is "Why, Louis Armstrong!" Louis and his All-Stars (Barney Bigard, Trummy Young, Marty Napolean, Arvell Shaw and Cozy Cole) play Basin St. Blues. Babe Russin, Gene Krupa ( Glenn's Red Nichols band mates at the time) and Glenn sit in.Unfortunately, this scene has been edited and we miss some great blowing by Pops. (He would record this version twice for Decca and keep it in his shows for many years). Gene and Cozy do some neat drum battling during the sequence. Joe Yukl, a big band and studio veteran who replaced Glenn in the Dorsey Bros. band, did the trombone work and coaching for Stewart. (Jimmy does a decent job of faking the slide work).

Surprisingly, Tex Beneke was left out of the film. Perhaps due to bad feelings on the part of Helen and the Miller estate. Tex had led the Miller band but had a falling out with the family. Jerry Gray was only mentioned once and other standouts such as Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton, Bobby Hackett, Bill Finegan, Billy May and Ray McKinley were omitted. (I guess the studio wanted to save some money on talent). Paula Kelly, Hal Dickinson and a new version of the Modernnaires appear during an Air Force concert sequence. Vocal Star Frances Langford (no Miller ties) sings Chatanooga ChooChoo with them. Perhaps they were trying to show the guest star format Glenn had with the Army Air Force band. (Dinah Shore and Bing Crosby had guested). Chummy MacGregor, Glenn's longtime pianist, is given a meaty role played by Harry Morgan (then known as Henry, before Dragnet and MASH). Chummy was a technical adviser on the film and in real life was nothing like the jovial Morgan portrayal. Si Shribman, a Boston ballroom owner and booker, was a real "angel" to the Miller band during its struggling years. In typical Hollywood fashion, Si (played by George Tobias) hangs around the Miller family like a Dutch uncle for the rest of the film. Don Haynes was a friend of Glenn's and served as his personal manager and lieutenant in the Air Force band. He is played by Charles Drake. Don's wife, Polly, was also a dear family friend and worked for Glenn as personal secretary and office manager. She is played by a young Marion Ross. (This was long before Happy Days. I don't think she had any lines). Veteran character actor Barton MacLane appears as General Arnold, a friend and ally of Glenn's AAF Band.

The film was expertly directed by Anthony Mann. Writers Valentine Davies and Oscar Brodney came up with some fine real life story lines. One standout scene is Glenn and the early Miller band struggling to get to a dance date in wintry New England. These kinds of headaches fell upon every "road" band of the era. The scene with Glenn and a few of the boys getting the dance going while overcoated horn players add their parts in quickly is very effective. Another episode during the Air Force days shows Glenn and the band playing In the Mood and competing with an air battle overhead. The band keeps playing thru the air raid signal and receives a thunderous ovation when the signal is lifted. This scene has been recounted by many of the Army Air Force band members.

The famous Miller "sound" of clarinet lead is given the typical Hollywood tratment. In real life, Glenn had tried this sound briefly in experiment. His first try was with Ray Noble, having trumpeter PeeWee Erwin play above the saxes. In Glenn's early 1937 band he had the great Irving Fazola on clarinet. Faz was not a great saxophonist, so Glenn had him double the tenor lead to create a pleasant unison voicing. Later Glenn started to use this sound more, until it became his trademark and established the band's "sound".

In the movie we get the trumpet man playing lead, but when he sits down he bangs his horn on a music stand cutting his lip! As a trumpet player I cringe at the scene. All horn men know enough to take their horn away from their lip when navigating a precarious spot. Anyway, Glenn decides he can have Willie Schwartz play the lead on clarinet. (That really happened.).We see Glenn up all night in Si's office rewriting the parts (with the help of much coffee!). Actually all he had to do was give Willie the trumpet part. They're in the same range! But it makes great theatre and the next night at the dance, the kids go wild over the new "sound!" These Hollywood takes on the facts are what make these bios so enjoyable and such guilty pleasures.

Another silly scene has Glenn and Helen out at a nightspot to hear Glenn's Moonlight Serenade .We get a raucous girl singer and a voluptuous chorus line belting it out! Glenn and Helen cringe. Silly, but charming. Little Brown Jug was one of Glenn's early hits (1939). In the film it is a favorite of Helen's, but Glenn thinks it's kind of corny. It is used as the final number played by the AAF band after Glenn's dissapearance. That final scene with Helen, Chummy and family listening to the Christmas broadcast is very touching and beautifully played by June Allyson and Harry Morgan. We can go on and on with the wrong dates, times, places and personell but the Miller Story is a wonderful story that touches the viewer with the great sounds of the big band era and the inspiring story of the bandleader who became a hero. That final flight Glenn took from London to Paris is played with great authenticity and drama.

All the great Miller hits are heard in various forms including In the Mood, Tuxedo Junction, St. Louis Blues March and String of Pearls). The soundtrack album originally on Decca with Louis doing Basin St. and Dark Eyes (not in the movie) has been available since the film's release. (It is now available on an MCA cd). The DVD version is available from Universal. The Glenn Miller Band still tours and records. The baton has gone from Tex to Ray McKinley to Buddy DeFranco and currently to Larry O'Brien. I'm sure there will always be a Miller band just like there will always be a Boston Pops.

Glenn Miller made his mark on American popular music. It's a tragedy we didn't get to see what he would do in the post-war years. (The AAF band gave us a small idea). This movie spawned more of the Hollywood bios. Next time we'll look at the Benny Goodman Story.

Hope this post put you In the Mood.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Case of the Fake Shemp

In the course of our posts on the Three Stooges and Columbia comedies, we have mentioned the Columbia "chicanery". This is no more apparent than in the Four Stooges shorts made after Shemp's death. The chicanery included liberal use of stock footage and music, numerous remakes of previous shorts, actors being brought back to film new scenes and when not available being doubled in body and voice. Sometimes a character actor even played two roles in the same film (with the help of makeup and costuming).

By 1953 the bulk of the Stooges' shorts were remakes of earlier comedies with the boys filming a few new scenes to give the look of a fresh short. (The casual moviegoer wasn't aware of these tricks). When Shemp passed on from a sudden heart attack in November 1955, the studio still had four comedies to be produced for release in 1956. Instead of giving Moe and Larry some grieving time and perhaps wait for a new partner, the show went on and four bogus shorts were produced with Shemp still a member of the team! Four remakes of earlier Shemp comedies were produced with some new scenes by Moe and Larry, a lot of Shemp stock footage and some scenes using a double for Shemp! That was longtime supporting player Joe Palma. The double was only seen from the back so as not to give away the ruse.

The first of these "bogus" shorts was Rumpus in the Harem, a remake of Malice in the Palace (1949). Moe and Larry carry the early scenes with their girlfriends setting up the plot. (Shemp has conveniently gone to open their restaurant). It's mostly stock footage for a while. Then Palma appears as "Shemp" for the traditional Stooge huddle with his back to the camera, of course. Longtime Stooge foil Vernon Dent appears via stock footage. He had retired from acting due to illness.

The rest of the film follows the original plot of getting the Rootentooten diamond and encountering the Emir of Shmow and his huge bodyguard. To pad things out Moe and Larry have a lame encounter with some harem girls. During the films' climax "Shemp" is being chased by the guard with lots of stock Shemp voiceovers and his heep-heep-heep cry (at fast speed). It's all pretty lame and Palma keeps his face obscured. We end with the standard Stoogers run away and scream ending, except Palma gets to do his own "Yipe!" I guess they didn't want to dig out another Shemp voice track. All in all, a pretty lame and obvious start to this canon.

Next up was Hot Stuff, a remake of Fuelin' Around (1949).The "Shemp" bits in this film are really lame . The film opens with the boys as spies, wearing beards to help hide Palma. When Moe instructs "Shemp" to follow a suspicious female, Palma grunts, "Right!" and scoots off in a Shemp-like duck walk. Then Moe and Larry go through another silly encounter with two female officials, again-to mark time. It's to their credit that they were able to carry off these scenes, knowing poor Shemp was gone. Stooge regulars Vernon Dent, Christine McIntyre and Emil Sitka appear via stock footage. (Emil was still working with the boys at Columbia). Palma's routines are his silliest yet. At one point he flaps his arms and does some of Shemp's heep-heeping (with his own voice). He then goes to guard a door (with more heeping) and gets conveniently knocked out, while Moe and Larry carry another new scene. He then returns for a brief wrap up. We return to stock footage for the film's climax. This one really shows it's patchwork "chicanery."

Scheming Schemers is one of the wildest patchwork films the studio put out, yet it works as a fresh film for the non-stooge fan. Editor Harold White (Jule's son) should have received an Oscar for his editing work. Footage from three earlier films were worked into the story along with various voice overs and doubles.

The film is basically a remake of Vagabond Loafers (1949), a great gag title from a Rudy Vallee hit, Vagabond Lover. It was a remake of the Curly classic, A Plumbing We Will Go (1940). Many of the original plumbing gags are reprised. In the Shemp version the boys are working at the Norfleet estate. Emil Sitka reprises his role as Mr. Norfleet. The 1956 version also features a missing ring and the original premise of a valuable painting being stolen. Kenneth MacDonald and Christine McIntyre were the crooks in the original, but Kenneth is brought back solo for his new scenes. Christine is doubled in one scene.

Moe and Larry go it alone in two long scenes. Early at the mansion Shemp is absent, having missed his ride with the boys. When he (Palma) finally shows up, he's covered with pipes to hide his face! His one line of dialog--"Hold your Horses!"--is dubbed from The Ghost Talks (1949). Later Moe and Larry encounter MacDonald stealing the painting. (Shemp is conveniently upstairs working on the shower). A struggle ensues and the boys happen upon a table full of pies. That gives them a chance to start a pie fight with "guests" at the Norfleet estate. The guests have been absent until now. The guests getting creamed are lifted from Half-Wits Holiday (1947). Emil shows up in time to get creamed, himself. The boys manage to subdue MacDonald and a grateful Emil gets his painting back. The last shot has Moe wondering about Shemp's whereabouts and we see him surrounded in pipes (from Vagabond Loafers) calling out for help!
This is the one fake Shemp film that can be enjoyed, despite all the borrowed scenes and chicanery. It moves so well and all the recycled gags are great to see over again.

The last of these films, Commotion on the Ocean, is a more predictable remake of Dunked in the Deep (1949) with lots of stock footage and a few new scenes. The basic premise of the boys encountering foreign spy Bortch (Gene Roth in both versions) on a boat is reprised. This time we open with footage from Crime on Their Hands (1948), another great musical title taken from Time on my Hands). The boys are janitors and would be reporters working at a local paper. They get a tip about Bortch and off we go to Dunked in the Deep. Palma is involved in one transition scene holding his hands over his face. (Moe and Larry carry most of this scene.)

On the boat Moe and Larry go it alone. Shemp is out looking for food. The boys grab what they think is a fish--actually it is a wooden decoration--and share it with Bortch. We then get the old "coughing-up-sawdust" gag. When Shemp finally gets back, we follow the rest of the original, including Shemp's hilarious hammock scene with an ignited barrel looming below him). Moe has one new bit at the finale to tie up the new premise and appropriately Shemp gets the last gag.

Not long after this Novemer 1956 release, veteran comic Joe Besser was chosen to be the new Stooge. This would mercifully end the short era of the fake Shemp comedies. Despite the obvious chicanery, these shorts give us some unintentional laughs and amazement at the attempt to create new shorts despite Shemp's passing. And, of course, we get great doses of Columbia's never ending ability to utilize it's stock footage.

The Case of the Fake Shemp has been solved.

Till our next post, Keep Stooging

Video Update-Sony is working on the complete Stooges series on DVD. (The Fake Shemps should be eventually available,probably on Vol.8) There are also some independent DVD releases of all the comedies. Check eBay. For a great film capsule of all the Fake Shemp scenes, go to Youtube and check out DrOpOfahat. He has a great post and editing job on all the bogus scenes with Palma and their setup.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass-Part 2

In late 1969, Herb dissolved the Tijuana Brass. It had been an amazing ride for 7 years, but he wanted to try new projects and recharge the batteries. He got more involved with the running of A&M records, along with his partner Jerry Moss. He also did more recording but had no plans to reform the TJB. In 1970 Herb released a TJB Greatest Hits album.

Some of these recordings came out as the album Summertime, billed as a TJB album but more like a solo project with a modicum of TJB. The album has a laid back quality similar to Warm.

There are nice moments such as the title track, which has some elements of the Miles Davis and Ahmad Jamal recordings. Lani Hall's voice is also heard. She would eventually marry Herb and was the lead singer with Sergio Mendes' Brasil '66. (another popular A&M group).Other pleasant tracks are Martha My Dear (another Beatles cover), If You Could Read My Mind, Darlin' and Hurt So Bad, the latter more in the TJB style. Herb's composition, Jerusalem, is a very effective track. The album didn't do very well but is pleasant listening.

During 1971-4 Herb kept up his A&M duties and made some guest spots with A&M artists Rita Coolidge, Kris Krisstoferson and Lani Hall. Herb also released some new compilations, Solid Brass (1972) and Foursider (1973). By 1974 the old TJB juices were flowing again and he reformed the band.

This new band featured some of the old guard, Bob Edmondson, Julius Wechter, Nick Ceroli and John Pisano but also had some great new additions. Dave Frishberg, a talented jazz pianist and composer and Bob Findley, a busy studio trumpeter of great talent, joined up. This new band recorded a very interesting "comeback" album entitled You Smile-The Song Begins.

Highlights include an updating of Up Cherry Street in a dixieland vein featuring great stride piano from Frishberg. (He was very adept at trad and swing and a clever composer of tunes such as Dear Bix, I'm Hip, Van Lingle Mungo and My Attorney, Bernie). Herb and Lani sing a lovely duet, Save the Sunlight and Chuck Mangionnes's Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor is a perfect vehicle for Herb's haunting horn. Herb's composition Fox Hunt and I Can't Go on Living, Baby, without You are in the traditional TJB style. Gato Barbieri's theme to Last Tango in Paris is also very effective.(this had appeared in the Foursider compilation). Burt Bachrach's Promises, Promises made a nice showcase for Herb's horn. All in all, a good start for the new TJB.

In September of 1974, Herb and the Brass made an excellent TV special for the Sentry Company. The show also featured the Muppets and some of the tunes from You Smile and the upcoming Coney Island. Bob Findley got a nice workout on Panama, Herb and Lani did their lovely duet on Save the Sunlight and Lani soloed on Dave Frishberg's Wheelers and Dealers. From the You Smile album came Fox Hunt and One-Eyed Sailor and Herb did a nice tribute to Louis Armstrong, including the Kraft Music Hall clip of them singing Mame. The Muppets comedy was great and the only letdown was the closing vocal on I Belong, not one of Herb's better vocal tunes. (It would be on the new album). All in all, this was a wonderful show. YouTube has run parts of it, let's hope Herb or Sentry can release it on DVD soon. (It would be on the next album.)

That next album was Coney Island, one of Herb's best albums with the TJB and the most exciting since the halcyon days of Going Places! This new band had a lot of energy and more of a jazz feel. Herb also let Bob Findley loose, especially on Ratatouille and Carmine (dedicated to trumpet teacher Carmine Caruso). The title tune is a Dixie-flavored Wechter original. After years of being a studio-only player, Julius was finally a bona fide TJB member. Dave Frishberg gets to show off his trad chops on a cute samba-like The Crave by Jelly Roll Morton. Herb's horn is featured on a beautiful French ballad, Mickey, and the Brass give their unique take on the Carpenters' This Masquerade and Rodgers and Hammerstein's I Have Dreamed.

This is an excellent album and deserves reissue. Around the same time, I spotted Herb and the Brass on TV(perhaps Dinah Shore?) doing a great version of Somewhere from West Side Story featuring some great piccolo trumpet by Bob Findley. (Hope Herb recorded this one). An excellent single, El Bimbo, also came out at this time. It had a disco feel but a lot of the earlier Mariachi sound, too.

The band also appeared on the Midnight Special TV show. Unfortunately Herb soon dissolved this group and went back to solo projects and A&M duties. This was his most ambitious and musical group.

The next series of albums were primarily solo projects. Just You and Me (1976) was a rather dull album of Alpert originals except a unique version of Yankee Doodle. (This was the Bicentennial year).

Herb's next musical project was with the great African trumpeter, Hugh Masekela. Hugh had a big instrumental hit, Grazin' in the Grass, in the '60s and was recording for A&M.

The initial Herb Alpert and Hugh Masekela (1978) features Herb's trumpet and Hugh's flugelhorn on some spirited African-inspired melodies including the popular Skokian and originals African Summer and I'll Be There for You. The two horns mesh nicely in a pleasant if not spectacular album. The duo followed this album with a Main Event Live session recorded at various concerts. Highlights include the favorite Besame Mucho and People Make the World Go Round. Herb's next album would put him back on the charts after a long absence.

In 1979 a tune written by Herb's nephew, Randy Badazz, along with Andy Armer was brought to Herb's attention. It was Rise, a disco-flavored tune with a bit of the mariachi sound. This haunting, pulsating selection was a natural for Herb and it quickly made it to the charts , staying on the Billboard Top 100 for 2 weeks. It was also used as a recurring theme on General Hospital's story lines of the period. The followup Rise album is similar in style and has a standout track in Aranjuez, giving the Rodrigo piece a mix of disco and mariachi. The next albums would be in the same Rise style as Herb searched for another hit.

Beyond (1980) is one of Herb's lesser albums. The title track and Earth,Wind and Fire's Way of the World are the only bright spots on another Rise-clone. The Peter Frampton composition, The Factory, has to be one of Herb's biggest mistakes. It is an irritating, repetitious riff that goes on forever. Magic Man (1981) is similar in style, but a little easier to take. You Smile is updated, along with the favorite Besame Mucho. Julius Wechter is also on some tracks.

Herb's next album, Fandango (1982) is one of his best solo albums. The theme was a return to the Latin American sounds of the earlier LPs, in tribute to the 2oth anniversary of Herb's bullfight experience. Arranger Juan Carlos Calderon and co-producer Jose Quintana played an active part in the production along with Herb. The track California Blues had a lot of Herb's early mariachi style. Route 101, a breezy, rhythmic track, enjoyed some time on the charts. Herb sings Love Me the Way I Am in Spanish and sounds very comfortable. (His mom was Mexican.) A closing medley of Latin favorites including Frenesi and Bahia make this a very worthwhile effort. We hope it will be released on CD in the near future.

The next album Blow Your Own Horn (1983) was another average Rise-like LP with a very sexy cover shot of Herb. (He always cut a handsome figure) for the ladies. The good news was that we would have another TJB reunion coming up.

In 1984 Herb got the TJB back for some touring and a new album. Old hands Edmondson, Wechter, Ceroli and Pisano were back along with Bob Findley and his trumpeter brother, Chuck, another busy studio player. The new album Bullish was a bit disappointing. The title track had a Rise-like mix of mariachi and disco and Lani sang a nice cover of Maniac, but most of the tracks were rather similar and dull. The new band did some touring. I still have a Boston Globe review of a August 31 concert at Boston Common. (Jim Carey was the opening act!). Herb and the band were lauded for their musicianship and a medley took care of all the hits. Make a Wish, Fandango and Bullish were played from the recent repertoire. Herb reprieved This Guy's in Love and Lani did a medley of her Brasil '66 hits. Sounds like a great show.

That summer the band appeared on a syndicated variety show, On Stage America. Along with the live segment, Herb taped a profile/interview with co-host Susie Coelho, including many great clips. The band performed Bullish and Tijuana Taxi although they were lip syncing. Herb and Lani sang a lovely duet, Come what May, from one of Lani's solo albums. Julius, Nick and Bob seemed to be having a ball as was Herb.

Herb and the band also did two spots on Solid Gold playing Rise and This Guy's in Love again lip synced. These shows were a countdown of top 100 hits. Shortly after,Herb disbanded again and would be back to solo projects for quite a while.

Wild Romance (1985) was the next release. It was a pleasant but predictable album. The next album, Keep Your Eye on Me (1987) was quite radical and more in the hip-hop vein with contributions from Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The tune, Diamonds, got some chart activity and Herb and Lani did a mellow duet on Pillow. This album is not for traditional TJB listeners.

Under a Spanish Moon (1988) was a return to the Latin/Spanish sounds of Fandango. The title tune was an ambitious 3-part suite with orchestral background. Another highlight was Fragile, a composition by Sting. My Abstract Heart (1989) was a jazz project with the great trumpeter and arranger Shorty Rogers. Shorty had done some previous arranging for Herb. The big band backings complement Herb's horn and he and Lani duet on When lights Go Down Low--not the Benny Carter composition. North on South Street (1991) was more in the hip-hop vein again. Eddie DelBarrio co-produced this album. Unfortunately, it was not popular with Herb's fans.

The next album, Midnight Sun (1992), was a welcome return to jazz. Stan Getz, a good friend of Herb's plays on Friends recorded in 1990. Standards such as My Foolish Heart, Someone to Watch over Me (a nice Herb vocal), Mona Lisa and Wee Small Hours are given Herb's wistful touch. Herb also updated his classic, A Taste of Honey. Herb got nice support from John Pisano, Monty Budwig(bass) andFrank Collette(piano), Eddie delBarrio did some of the arranging. Herb also appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to promote the release. He and bandleader, Brandford Marsalis, teamed up on Taste of Honey and Herb sang Someone to Watch over Me with a small string section. His rendition was very Chet Baker-ish.

In 1992 Herb and Jerry Moss sold A&M to Polygram. Their next releases were on the new Almo Sounds label. Second Wind (1996) is a light jazz collaboration with keyboard player Jeff Lorber. Included was a redo of Flamingo. Passion Dance (1997), co-produced by Oskar Cartaya, got into the modern Latin and salsa styles, . Herb gave us a new version of Route 101. Colors (1999) saw more smooth jazz and Latin with a redo of Magic Man and Lani revisiting The Look of Love.

The new century saw Herb getting involved in painting and setting up an endowment for the arts, The Herb Alpert Foundation. He also guested on recordings with Lani, Gato Barbieri, Ry Cooder and Rita Coolidge. One of Herb's major endeavors was to bring the classic TJB albums to CD. A label called Shout Factory did the distribution. The packaging and artwork were first class, although 2 LPs could easily fit on a disc. The albums Vol.2, Warm and Brass Are Comin' were issued only on iTunes. All the other LPs, including Christmas Album, are available.

Herb also issued a terrific compilation titled Lost Treasures, featuring many unreleased TJB sides. Four sides came from You Smile-The Song Begins, but everything else was new to disc. Highlights include covers of Fire and Rain, And I Love Her, Killing me Softly and I'll Never Fall in Love again. There's a great shuffle version of Tennesee Waltz, a breezy Flowers on the Wall and Herb's vocal on Close to You recorded before the Carpenters' version. Let's hope Herb gives a Vol.2 of Lost Treasures. I'd love to get El Bimbo on disc.

Herb also did a new disc called Whipped Cream-Remixed where he did new trumpet solos to the albums' tunes as played by contemporary artists. The best news is that in 2008, Herb and Lani started touring again in a show featuring Latin jazz and standards, backed by a first class rhythm section. I missed them when they played Boston (the show was sold out-a testament to Herb's staying power), but YouTube clips show them both looking great and sounding wonderful. Herb's horn is still strong and mellow and Lani's beautiful, pure tones are unchanged. In 2009 Concord Jazz released a new CD, Anything Goes, consisting of tracks recorded at various concert venues. Herb and Lani sound fantastic. Let's hope there will more to come.

Entering his 75th year, let's hope Herb is blessed with good health, more gigs and CDs. He is one of the treasures of American Popular Music.

Ole, Senor Alpert!

Addendum- In 2011 Herb and Lani released a second Concord CD, I Feel You. The disc includes new takes on favorites such as Cast Your Fate to the Wind, Fever, Never be Another You, Here Comes the Sun, Till there was You,What now my Love and Call Me.
Herb was the subject of an exellent profile on CBS' Sunday Morning in Feb. 2011 (and rebroadcast in June). His career and curent musical and philanthropic activities were highlighted.