Like a lot of music executives, Herb Alpert — whose cover of the Beatles’ Michelle” from his upcoming album Music Vol. 1 is premiering exclusively below — has some regrets when it comes to the Fab Four.
“When people ask me, ‘Do you regret anything,’ I was thinking, man, in 1962, after A&M (Records) started, the Beatles were hunting for a record company,” Alpert tells Billboard. “They were on VeeJay for a while and I guess nobody really was coming to the party. I was thinking, ‘Man, if I had flown over to London just to see if we could do something…’ but the timing was off. I didn’t get them at that moment. I retrospect you think, ‘Man, they were available…'”
Nevertheless Alpert — whose 1966 concert with the Tijuana Brass in London was promoted by Beatles manager Brian Epstein — remains a professed Beatles fan who’s more than happy to have a jazzy take of “Michelle” on Music Vol. 1, which comes out July 28 (pre-order here). The rendition was spurred by a groove presented by album producer Jochem van der Saag (Destiny’s Child, Andrea Bocelli). “We were just kicking around some rhythm ideas, and all of a sudden he came up with this groove that just really touched me, and I started playing ‘Michelle’ over the groove and that started the process,” Alpert recalls. “I like to see if I can do a song that’s familiar with people and do it in a way that hasn’t been done quite that way before. I guess that’s one of my thrills.”
Music Vol. 1 includes a variety of other covers, including standards such as “Unforgettable,” “Cheek To Cheek” and “C’est Si Bon,” a new version of the Tijuana Brass’ “Flamingo” and a rendition of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” The set includes one original, “Sugarfoot.”
“Jochem has this other-world type of concept for music and sounds,” Alpert says of his collaborator. “He’d come up with some rhythm ideas and I’d go through my book of songs and maybe play seven or eight different songs on a particular groove until I hit one that would work, and then we’d explore it and it worked out.” Alpert says he expects to release at least two more volumes of Music albums, using some songs he and van der Saag worked on but didn’t include on this album. “I’m getting up there, man. I’ve got to get these volumes out while I can,” Alpert says with a laugh.
Music Vol. 1 comes on the 55th anniversary year of Alpert’s first artist release, The Lonely Bull, and despite getting up there it’s also his sixth album of the decade — more prolific than many artists a fraction of his age.
“Y’know, I’m passionate about the whole thing,” Alpert says. “I love the process; I mean, this is what I do. I wake up in the morning excited about either recording or sculpting or painting. My excitement has accelerated over the years. I’m getting more out of the trumpet with less effort. I’m just having a good time doing it, so I’m a lucky guy in that respect.”