By Jon Konjoyan
It was a Hollywood-style reception for legendary musician and artist Herb Alpert as the iconic trumpeter was honored by his hometown, the City of Malibu, with its first-ever public art installation.
Alpert, known for million sellers such as “Rise” and “This Guy’s in Love with You” and a string of golden hits with the Tijuana Brass, has also spent much of his life as an expressionist painter and sculptor. Last Friday his totem sculpture “Freedom” was dedicated at the original “Gateway to Malibu” on Pacific Coast Highway.
The nine-time Grammy Award winner and A&M Records co-founder was joined by musician Sting, producers David Foster and Lou Adler, singer Steve Tyrell, A&M co-founder Jerry Moss, and Alpert’s wife, singer Lani Hall for the event. Performances included students from the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA and Cal Arts plus performance dances by the Chumash Indian tribe.
The plight of Native Americans, and the Chumash in particular, were singled out as inspiration for the stunning, 17-foot tall bronze image. “When I think about all the ways we abuse the Native Americans, I just had to do something,” Alpert said. Speaking outdoors by the beautiful Malibu coastline, he continued: “Native Americans lived in harmony with the earth and that is an important lesson for us today.”
President Obama recently presented Alpert with the prestigious National Medal of Arts prize, and his latest album “Steppin’ Out” won a Grammy Award last month.
A single from the album, Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” is currently rising on the Jazz and Adult Contemporary radio charts. The video can be seen here: youtube.com/watch?v=UI0b2pCO4AI.