Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Back in the late 1950’s through the early 1960’s, Herb Alpert tried his hand at recording and writing songs, including a couple of vocal efforts under the name of Dore Alpert. Becoming frustrated with the lack of a big hit and the tendency for the record labels he recorded for to go out of business, he recorded an instrumental composition called "Twinkle Star", written by friend Sol Lake. Being deeply affected (one could say "romanced") by a bullfight he attended in Tijuana, he added bullfight sound effects to the song that would become "The Lonely Bull". In order to release his new creation, Alpert and his partner Jerry Moss formed a record label called Carnival Records. They soon discovered that the name Carnival Records was already in use, so they needed another name for their new venture. Using the initials of their last names, A&M records was formed. Recorded in Alpert’s garage on a shoestring budget, "The Lonely Bull" went on to become a Billboard Top 10 hit, peaking at #6 on the charts in 1962.
While his second album could have launched him into relative obscurity, it was the song "Mexican Shuffle", a background for a commercial, that proved to the public that Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass were no fluke. Upon the release of his fourth album Whipped Cream & Other Delights, featuring the knock out arrangement of "A Taste Of Honey", Alpert finally received major nationwide success. After the Whipped Cream album, the success of the Tijuana Brass would snowball to the point where the group would place a record-breaking five albums in the top twenty, and would be the fourth largest album selling artist of the sixties, behind only Elvis, The Beatles and Sinatra. And although Herb Alpert is best known as a trumpet player, his first Billboard Number One honor would come with a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition, "This Guy’s In Love With You", which he sang in his CBS television special.
oday, Herb Alpert’s legion of fans is constantly growing, including new converts in Europe and Japan. Having sold A&M records a few years ago for almost a half billion dollars, Alpert and Moss have started another label called Almo Sounds. And Herb Alpert is still a recording artist in his own right, working on a new album in the studio as this is being written (March, 1996).
Beside Alpert’s trumpet playing and singing, he has a keen ear for new and different sounds. His fans not only appreciate his own compositions, they appreciate his unique arrangements of popular songs. "A Taste Of Honey" is one of his finest arrangements, and he’s also arranged songs from Broadway ("Mame"), jazz ("The Work Song"), popular music (a variety of Beatles songs, for example), and other songs pulled from sources as diverse as Top 40 to classical. His organization was also blessed with the songwriting talents of other A&M cohorts such as Julius Wechter, John Pisano, and Ervan "Bud" Coleman, among others.
Personnel listings on Tijuana Brass albums are few and far between. The earliest albums were mainly studio creations using session musicians. (Julius Wechter recalls being paid $15 for his contribution to The Lonely Bull, and long-time member Bob Edmondson was there for the first album as well.) The TJB would appear in public for the first time at a concert at the Crescendo in Los Angeles, CA. By the time the group started touring full time, a permanent road-ready TJB was required.
Throughout most of the TJB era (back from the !!Going Places!!era until the group dissolved after the Summertime album), personnel in the TJB would be: