Herbert Alpert was born on March 31, 1935 and raised in the Boyle Heights section of East Los Angeles, California. His family was Jewish, emigrating from Radomyshl, now present day Ukraine and Romania. His father, a talented mandolin player, his mother taught violin, and his older brother a drummer. He began trumpet lessons at the age of eight and played at dances as a teenager. Acquiring an early wire recorder in high school, he experimented on this crude equipment.
Following graduation in 1952, he joined the U.S. Army and frequently performed at military ceremonies. After his service in the Army, Alpert tried his hand at acting, but eventually settled on pursuing a career in music. While attending the University of Southern California he became a member of the USC Trojan Marching Band, and appeared in the un-credited role as “Drummer on Mt. Sinai” in the film The Ten Commandments in 1056. In 1962, he had an un-credited part in a scene in the film Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation, playing a solo in a dance band.
In 1957, Alpert teamed up with Rob Weerts, co-wrote a number of Top 20 hits including Baby Talk for Jan & Dean and Wonderful World for Sam Cooke. By 1960 he was signed with RCA Records as a vocalist under the name of Dore Alpert.
In 1962 along with Jerry Moss they founded A&M Records and their very first hit was “The Lonely Bull” adapted from the mariachi bands and the cheers of bullfighting spectators. The title song reached No. 6 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and became A&M’s first album with the original release number being #101.
By the end of 1964, with top session players he began touring with the Tijuana Brass. Television specials followed by 1967, as well as two albums, Whipped Cream and Other Delights and Going Places. The single “A Taste Of Honey” won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
The Brass would go on to perform the title tack to the first movie version of Casino Royale in 1967. His music would be used on The Dating Game, bringing him greater exposure. The band would win six Grammy Awards, fifteen of their albums went gold, fourteen platinum, and in 1966 outsold the Beatles.
Alpert’s only No. 1 single during this period, and the first No. 1 hit for his A&M label, was a solo effort of “This Guy’s In Love With You” by Bacharach/David. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Alpert enjoyed a successful solo career. In 1979 he had his biggest instrumental hit titled “Rise”. He would go on to work with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith. He performs with Gato Barbieri, Rita Coolidge, Brian Culbertson, and others. With his wife kani Hall (Sergio Mendes fame), they have released the live album Anything Goes. In 2013, he released a new album, Steppin’ Out which won a Grammy.
Herb and Moss received a Grammy Trustees Award, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2013, has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and received the “El Premio Billboard” for his contributions to Latin music. Trumpeter, pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger, songwriter, record producer of jazz, Latin and pop music continues to perform, record and tour.
Love Theme From Spartacus, composed by Alex North for the 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick, starred and produced by Kirk Douglas. The supporting cast included Laurene Olivier, John Gavin, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis and Peter Ustinov, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, one of the four the film received. The film became the biggest moneymaker in Universal Studios’ history, until it w as surpassed by Airport in 1970.
The Story: It was inspired by the life story of the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, Spartacus, and the events of the Third Servile War. In the 1st century BC, the Roman Republic has slid into corruption, its menial work done by armies of slaves. One of these, a proud and gifted man named Spartacus, is so uncooperative in his servitude that he is sentenced to fight as a gladiator. Spartacus forms a quiet relationship with a serving woman named Varinia, whom he refuses to rape when she is sent to “entertain” him in his cell. Rebellion ensues, the senate war is lost, and Spartacus is ultimately crucified but Varinia shows him his new born son before he dies.
King Pleasure was born Clarence Beeks on March 24, 1922 in Oakdale, Tennessee. He moved to New York City in the mid-1940s and while working as a bartender, he became a fan of bebop music. He first achieved popularity by singing the Eddie Jefferson penned vocalese classic Mood’s Mood For Love, based on a 1949 James Moody saxophone solo to “I’m In The Mood For Love”. On a night in late 1951 at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater, he won the competition and where Clarence Beeks became King Pleasure that night in Harlem.
Pleasure’s 1952 recording, featured vocalist Blossom Dearie, was his first after signing a contract with Prestige Records and is considered a jazz classic. He and Betty Carter also recorded a famous vocalese version of “Red Top”, a jazz classic penned by Kansas City’s Ben Kynard and recorded by Gene Ammons and others. Other notable recordings include “Parker’s Mood”, the year before Charlie Parker died in 1955, and Ammons’s “Hittin’ The Jug”, retitled as “Swan Blues” in 1962.
He would record with the Modern jazz Quartet, sans Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Lucky Thompson, with backup vocals by Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks along with The Three Riffs. In Los Angeles in 1960 he was recording with Teddy Edwards and Harold Land. But by this time his popularity was waning and he faded into obscurity. However, his early work influenced Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Bob Dorough, Mark Murphy, Al Jarreau, The Manhattan Transfer and others.
Jazz vocalist King Pleasure, an early master of vocalese, where a singer sings words to a famous instrumental solo passed away on March 21, 1982, three days before his 60th birthday.
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My Buddy was composed by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Gus Kahn and was published in 1922. It was used in the Gus Kahn film biography “I’ll See You In My Dreams” in 1951 and became a Variety Hit Parade of a Half Century selection. The song also appeared in the non-musical film Buddy in 1997. I’ll See You in My Dreams is a 1951 musical film starring Doris Day and Danny Thomas, directed by Michael Curtiz.
The Story: Gus Kahn (Thomas) is the prolific tunesmith, whose fortunes take an upswing in 1908 when he meets and falls in love with Grace LeBoy (Day). Kahn’s career ascends to spectacular heights via such hits as Pretty Baby, My Buddy, Toot Toot Tootsie and Makin’ Whoopee only to go into eclipse when he loses his savings in the 1929 stock-market crash.
Eliane Elias was born on March 19, 1960 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and her musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven, and by age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. Fifteen, saw her teaching piano and improvisation and her performing career began at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the poet Vinicius de Moraes.
In 1981, she headed for New York and a year later landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent in the Critics Poll of Jazziz magazine, together with Herbie Hancock she was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets, received the Downbeat Readers Poll’s “Best Jazz Album” for her recording The Three Americas and has been named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year.
Elias has recorded with RCA Victor, Bluebird, Denon, Manhattan, Blue Note, EMI, Concord/Picante, ECM and Savoy Jazz spanning over twenty albums to date. She has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim, winning Best Vocal Album in Japan and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll. She has been featured in a Calle 54 documentary, received several Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album, and recorded with Denyce Graves on The Lost Days.
On her first album titled “Amanda” released in 1984 she collaborated with Randy Brecker and shortly thereafter she began her solo career. She has also collaborated with bassist Marc Johnson on the album Swept Away. Pianist, singer, arranger and songwriter Eliane Elias, known for her distinctive blend of her Brazilian roots with voice, jazz and classical music, continues to compose, record, perform and tour.