Doing what you know you are good at can truly give you the satisfaction and success you deserve. For Eden Alpert, the daughter of Grammy Award winner Herb Alpert and co-owner of the famous jazz super club Vibrato Grill Jazz in Bel Air, success comes with music and entertainment. Growing up with a celebrity dad and a life surrounded by musical legends, Eden shares her life as co-owner of LA’s best-kept secret. She flashbacks her childhood memories of being on tour, name drops some of the biggest stars who have performed in the club, and shares which star impresses her the most!
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L.A’s Top Jazz Club Owner and Star Maker – Eden Alpert
A Life With Legends!
The world loves music. Particularly, LA is probably the epicenter of the music industry. What a better way to celebrate music than our guest.
LA seems to be the center of anything innovative, old school, legendary and modernized. What I love about our guest is that she comes from a legendary musical family. She’s grown up in the music industry. My father is a huge jazz legend and you’ll soon figure out who that is. I love that she’s a full-on LA born-and-bred resident. She knows probably LA and the music industry better than anyone else. Her establishment, Vibrato Grill, is the only jazz establishment that I know of and the only live music place to be seen and to perform. Let me welcome to the show the one and only, Eden Alpert.
Vibrato Jazz and Grill is a unique place. I don’t know about you, Tara, but I love live music. I always think and find out where I can go. For artists, it’s one of the only places that come to mind. How do people view Vibrato, Eden? You’ve been with this place your whole life. Does it still have this cool stigma and reputation when people meet you and they find out you’re the owner of it, they go, “I love that place?”
When people come to me and they’re like, “I’ve never been here,” because we’re a hidden gem at the top of left Beverly Glen in Mulholland and in Bel-Air. It’s not in West LA or Beverly Hills. It’s a hidden spot. We’re still word of mouth. We’ve just started advertising more and we are thrilled that we’re a hidden secret. It’s nice. We have much going on. It is in place but we’re not in a spot.
When you look at the Vibrato calendar, you do have such an amazing line-up. I’m fortunate enough to have represented some artists that have performed there and they all love it. They want to rush back.
Why do you think, Tara? Is it because it’s intimate?
Katherine Jenkins performed there and we had a magical night with her. Tom Jones, who’s a dear friend of hers and who I know as well, got up and sang with her live on stage. Those moments don’t happen often. I’ve been there sitting at tables with David Foster and watching some of his artists perform.
I love it when you name drop.
Eden, you’re always there. The face and place behind the whole fabulousness that is Vibrato. Also, I have to say the food is the best.
Usually, it’s great music and the food is so-so but you have got it right. It’s a great night all around.
It took a long time to get it right. We have one of the chefs from Bouchon. Bouchon closed down. I’ve taken it to another level but my father and I have always wanted to have good food and good music as most places, you can get one or the other. Acoustically, when you say this that everyone wants to play there, we get that because my dad built this place. It’s built by a musician for musicians. This is no disrespect to anyone else who has a music club. When someone else builds a musical venue, let’s say a place in Beverly Hills that open and close like, “Why did you hide the speakers? You don’t want to do that. You want the speaker’s out. The way things bounce off the walls, it’s all acoustic.” I’ve learned that from my dad and I’m not an acoustician. We had one come in.
What is an acoustician?
It’s a guy who goes in and builds music studios. They know how to make it sound pristine. They are musical engineers. Visually, I’m not describing it in the best way. The reason why everything looks the way it does in Vibrato is the way the sound bounces off the walls or the lighting pods that are in the ceiling.
I used to put egg boxes on the studio walls.
The fact that it’s in a semi-circle, acoustically, that can potentially help. That’s one of the things I was going to mention when you were saying that people come back. The artists that I’ve brought to you want to come back simply because the acoustics are good. It’s also a place where if you’re doing a great show with a great artist, you can get anyone and everyone who’s senior in the business to go there because they know they’re going to have a good night.
They’re going to be comfortable. We don’t care whoever you are and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it as everyone’s special to us. We had Gladys Knight’s 75th birthday. In that industry with the Quincy’s and Freda Payne. It was the first time I’ve ever met Gladys.
Name drop, Eden. Give us some good names. Who was there for her birthday?
We had Lalah Hathaway, Freda Payne, Taylor Dayne, and AI B. Sure!. It was one icon after the other coming in. Quincy couldn’t make it. Martina Jones and Alex were there who’s the big agent with CAA. The parents can be there and there were other ones that were one after the next. Chaka Khan couldn’t make it that night but she’s performed at Vibrato. Tom Jones has gotten up not only with Katherine but also performed with Brenna. I’ve had John Mayer get up and perform. I’ve found Brenna in West Hollywood. I also worked in publishing so I have a good ear for what we would like to have in the room. We’re particular now and we’re much pickier. It’s not to say anyone’s bad. It’s what’s going to fit in that room and fill the room because we are music-driven.
I’ve been there where the most random people have got up like Seth MacFarlane. Who knew he was such a singer? We went for one of your Christmas nights. Seth MacFarlane, the Founder and Creator of Family Guy, the animated cartoon, got up. He’s the voice-over guy. He did this whole jazz set and he was good.
He’s full-on. He’s going to play one night in December. I don’t know which night he’s asking. He sells it out every time and we usually do a Monday night. The room gets insane. All summer long, he played five Mondays in a row and each Monday, it was packed. Sometimes, he comes with the eighteen-piece band and these are all his guys that play on all their shows. These are professional orchestra guys. I have had Tony Bennett in for a private party. I’ve had him on the stage. Dad plays hopefully once a year. He’s hard to get because he’s on the road a lot.
Who are your favorites that you get excited knowing they’re coming in to perform?
Believe it or not, Frank Stallone still to this day. He plays every second Wednesday of every month and Brenna would occur. When she’s not around, my heart aches. She was in Dubai all summer playing at Q’s. I lost her for three months and she’s back. She ignites everything in me.
She has one of the most amazing voices around and an extraordinary stage presence but her voice is on another level. I totally understand why you would miss her.
I miss her dearly. I’ve got Frankie Jordan who much like Amy Winehouse. Amy Winehouse’s father flew here from London to perform with her. The beautiful thing is when we open, it was a straight-ahead jazz place. That’s what my dad wanted. Over time he said, “We can’t just do standard jazz squaring. I’ve got to bring in R&B, a little pop and fun jazz. Vocalist people love vocal. I love Barbara Morrison. There are many that I could list as my favorites. Hussain Jiffry, who’s my dad’s bass player and used to play with Sergio Mendes, is now in my dad’s trio that travels with them worldwide. He’s also our musical director alongside me and we do a lot of this together. We decide together who is going to perform at Vibrato and who can fill the room. I get many requests every day. People don’t realize what I do behind the scenes. It’s a lot because it’s hard to tell sometimes. If someone sounds good on an EP, it might not sound good live. I don’t know if they can fill the room so I have to go by my ear.
Your dad founded Vibrato years ago.
Let’s tell everyone who your dad is.
My dad is Herb Alpert from Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. He’s the A of A&M records and he’s one of the world’s largest philanthropists. He’s an incredible father, artist, sculptor and painter. He’s got sculptures all over the world. They’re up to seventeen feet tall totems. He’s 84 years old and he’s going strong.
He’s an all-around creator. That’s the definition of a true artist. Whatever he puts his creative juices, he flourishes. He is a legend in the business.
I’ve learned much from him. It’s getting out there a lot more. There are three kids and I’m the middle one. I’m the one that was adopted and the other two weren’t adopted. My sister is from my dad’s second marriage with Lani Hall and my brother is from my dad’s first marriage. My mom couldn’t have more kids. I’m the only one who’s worked side-by-side with my dad like this because I’m an extrovert. They’re all introverted and I’m like, “Go get them. Be out there. Let’s make this restaurant work.” I love doing that. I didn’t own that for a long time that I’m good at connecting people.Everyone needs to be patient, and not everyone has it. Click To Tweet
You are social. We’ve been hanging out in social circles for a while and it seems like it’s the perfect fit for you. How was it growing up in LA Beverly Hills with this hugely famous dad, being in the industry, seeing all these legends and famous people coming in and out of your house? Were you quite nonchalant about it? Do you realize it that this age how privileged you were to be around these artists and amazing performers?
At this age, you’ll realize that when you’re younger, I had no idea. I met Clenise Werner. I grabbed his hand and it’s normal for me because they’re normal people. Herb is bigger than life to me. It’s not that I don’t empathize. I don’t get it when people get nervous because people forget they’re extraordinary people. If they get excited and I know their fans of me, that’s just another person. I feel as important as them and maybe not as talented on their level, but I love people. Growing up in this life was not easy and it’s not normal. You make a choice to make the best of it and it’s made me the better person that I am now.
Can we ask who was some of your friends when you were growing up in this crazy world that is Hollywood in the music industry?
I grew up with a lot more on the acting side. I grew up with Jason Gould for a few years, which is Barbra Streisand’s son. We were in the same elementary school. I went to Beverly Hills High School and I was pulled out of the private school. Mindy Cohn was one of my best friends. I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing at a young age because back then, it was much easier to get into places. I’m Herb Alpert’s daughter and in the ‘80s he was huge. In the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, to drop his name, you do that when you’re younger. I don’t do that anymore. Maybe sometimes but I don’t have to drop his name because I’ve created my own Vibrato name. Even though my name is not in the restaurant, it’s known that I’m his partner. It sounds better when Herb operates Vibrato Grill Jazz. I grew up with a lot of people. I hung out with a lot of kids and wealthy children. They’re all awesome. People assumed that it was this grander than a grand life. I didn’t realize it until I moved to Chicago and people were like, “Your life,” and I’m like, “Really?” It’s different here. In general, LA is different.
When do you need to drop the output name? When is it necessary?
I drop it when I’m proud of him. Now, when I drop it, “My dad is Herb Alpert.” I say it in a proud way. When I used to do it, it was to get into somewhere. A lot of people, unfortunately, introduced me as Herb Alpert’s daughter and not Eden Alpert and my own individual. I’m okay with it now because it’s an honor to be his daughter and I wouldn’t know all the amazing things I know now and be able to do what I do well if it weren’t for my father. I’ve learned how to listen with ears that are open and I’ve learned to be honest with kindness. That’s how my whole family works and know that everyone in our restaurant from me to the guy who cleans the dishes, we’re all the same. We’re just as important, they are as I am. I appreciate everyone that works for us. This is a team effort when you’re in this business. Teams to me are important. I can’t do it without a team of people.
Talking of kindness, you were mentioning that your father is involved with philanthropy. He set up the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. Do you get involved with his philanthropic pursuits as well?
I do. We all sit on the board at the foundation and as long as it’s in alignment with what the foundations which are the Arts and Education, we are all allotted a certain amount of money that we allocate throughout the year to organizations that have to do with the Arts and Education. I try to find off-the-beaten-path ones. As long as there is a 501(c)(3), I sit in on some of their meetings and also, we’re going to tour the Harlem School of Music. The Harlem School of Arts in New York, my dad completely did another whole renovation and a huge donation, unforeseen amount of money. That’s what he wants to do. He wants to give back and he’s passed that down to me. If I have, I give in any way that I can.
It must be quite a bit of pressure being the child of, whether it’s your dad or other children. How do you not only match or ever supersede that success? It wasn’t easy growing up with that. Can you elaborate on that a bit more? How do you supersede or match your dad’s level of generosity or philanthropy? How do you supersede or match his level of success? Talk about the pressures.
There’s a lot of pressure. People assume that I have his money. I don’t and I didn’t earn that money. We have a blessed life and I work my tush off, too. I would work twenty jobs to give people a better life and a better education. When I give, it’s not on his level. That’s for sure. I’m more about giving time as well as money because I feel like hands-on is important. Living up to him, one of the things he taught us was to be the best you can be at what you’re passionate about. I don’t know how to play the trumpet but I’m good at putting people together and making stuff happen. He knows that.
It took him a long time to understand because he’s an extrovert on stage and an introvert in life. He comes alive painting and doing his art. I come alive being around people, making them feel good, make it want them to be happy in an environment, watching people smile, getting to know people and putting the right people together. I still have a lot of artists collaborate. Because I learned a lot about publishing, I’ve got a totally different talent than him. I’m never going to be him and I can’t speak for my brother. It’s different for men. There’s that ego that comes in the way sometimes but he’s never expected us to be anything like him. He’s got a gift that you’re born with.
Does your brother have struggles with that? It’s sons and fathers. Does he feel, “I’m never going to be as good as dad or successful?” Have you experienced that in the family?
I don’t think we talked about it but my brother is on his own level. He’s shy and uncomfortable around people. My parents got divorced when he was nine. That age for a boy is hard and then Herb’s on the road all the time. Me, being a girl, I had the mama around. Dad was on the road but I would go live with him a lot or I would go with him because I was younger. It affected him. He wants to be the best that he can be but he struggles.
Tell us about being on the road with your father when you were a child because that must have been quite an experience.
Not many people experience that so it could be quite insightful.
Unfortunately, they didn’t take me as much. They took my sister more because when mommy and my dad got married, I was twelve. She’s been in my life since I was an infant, but I was much younger than twelve. I can’t remember how old I was. Aria went more but I did go. It was crazy but it was cool. He’s singing This Guy’s In Love With You to me from the stage in Canada. I always felt like from that day on, that was my song. He was not singing that to anybody else. He was madly in love with me and I love that. He knows that memory is there with me and that’s a memory you can’t ever forget. To me, being on that one particular tour around Toronto and Quebec, was magical. Being on the front of the stage and all these beautiful women were like, “Herb,” and I’m like, “That’s me. That’s for me.”
Was your dad rock and roll from what the general public perceives as rock and roll? Was he a party guy? Were there women throwing panties at him? Did he sing on stage and he was chill afterward?
That was Tom Jones.
My dad wasn’t that guy that I saw. There might be stuff I have heard that he was like that. I’m sure there’s some stuff he did that I don’t know about. He’ll probably never tell me. I know he had fun but he was with my mom and then immediately, with my stepmom. If there’s stuff, I don’t know. There’s probably a reason. Hanging around with Charlie Minor, who was big in records. Unfortunately, he was killed by a jealous woman in Malibu years back. If you look up Charlie Minor, he was highly respected in the music industry. We went to places like Le Dome when I was thirteen years old. I would go downstairs and party with the adult. There’s stuff here that we used to do and I’m sure they do it now, too, but I was young. I would say I was 12 or 13 when I was going to some of these places and I looked like I was 21.
You grow up quickly when you’re in that environment.Someone who sounds good on an EP might not sound good live. Click To Tweet
I grew up way too quickly and one of the things that I made sure to do with my daughter was to let her be a child as long as she could and be immature. There’s more to my situation. My dad left my mom. Primarily, he wasn’t happy with her anymore. They were high school sweethearts and then married Lani and it ruined my mom. I had a full-blown non-present mother so I became the mom.
How do you keep a balance between your work life, Vibrato, all your philanthropy and your personal life?
I’m not sure that I’m that balanced. I try to stay balanced but then I lose that. Any person who is super busy and strong, as you ladies know, you’re successful in your own right and your own businesses.
When you run your own business, there’s no switch-off time.
A lot of people might not see me at Vibrato because I’m wiped out. I sit on two boards. One’s called OmniPeace and the other one is Vista Del Mar. I sit on two nonprofit boards and then I’ve got a daughter who’s back home going to get her Master’s degree. I have a new husband and I’ve got Vibrato. I’ve got other artists that I try to help so it’s a lot but I make sure that I take care of myself. You have to take care of yourself first. Everyone else knows who I am.
What has been your greatest childhood memory and the most impressed that you’ve ever been? What do you think has been one of those memories where you go, “I remember that day. I’ll never forget that day. I’d never forgotten this moment or this person?” Who’s been the most influential or impressive to you because you’ve met many people?
I know this sounds weird, but my dad is one of those people that every time I watch him perform, I’m like a proud parent. Of his age, to be able to be doing what he’s still doing and to be able to blow that horn, that’s a whole stomach-esophagus training that he practices every day. He’s always taught me, “The day you die is when you stop learning.” I believe we’re always learning something new. A memory that I don’t know why this one sticks out much because my dad instilled giving back so much. He used to take us back in the day to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was not such a bad thing to go to. We didn’t know about treating animals poorly. We used to go and hospital kids used to come that was terminally ill and burned 90% of their bodies. This is something my dad took me to do at a young age, to be with these kids on the floor and taking them to something magical. I know it sounds negative but it wasn’t to me. It was life-changing to me because it taught me that there’s much more than what I was living in. That’s what turned me around always be full of gratitude, gracious and giving back. It’s super important. I don’t care if you don’t have a dime, you go put time in.
How have you seen the changes and where do you think is it going? There have been big changes with digital technology, the streaming and all of those the way the music industry has gone. As far as music goes, are you saying, “Are we going to get another Chaka Khan, Herb and Al B. Sure!?” Can you see that? Do you feel like the days of the legends are gone in a way?
A big part of me feels like the days of the legends are gone, but there are some talented people out there. People would stop trying to turn them into what’s going to sell, let them be authentic and organic to be there like Brenna Whitaker. Stop saying, “This is what’s going to play on the radio.” The streaming is going in an upward direction again now and it’s going to be a slow process, but it’s going to turn around. When people ask me, “Do you want to start a record label with me?” I shudder, “No, I don’t,” because of social media and what we’re able to do online. I find some of the greatest people online cruising and word of mouth. People are able to generate nice incomes on Instagram and I’m still learning all that. There are people out there that are a Chaka Khan. They just don’t get the opportunity to be seen and heard but we’ll find them. I missed those legends. John Legend to me is a legend. I believe there are a lot of them I could name.
When you’re looking for artists to have at Vibrato, do you look on social media for new exciting faces? Do you get approached through agents, managers or whoever else rather than doing the looking yourself?
I don’t have to look because I get bombarded. When someone finds out that I’m Herb’s daughter and then I own Vibrato, I try to be as helpful as I can. There are a lot of people that feel entitled to play at Vibrato and they get their feelings hurt. I let Hussain handle that because if you don’t have a following here, we’re driven by that. We’re music-driven. If you’re somebody who’s new to town, we can try and build a following for you like this guy, Tim Hockenberry. He was on America’s Got Talent and he played one night with Billy Valentine. I was like, “We need to have this guy back.” We put him in on a Friday night and it was a new crowd for him. He’s moved here from the south. They were like, “When is he coming back?” I want him on the roster once every couple of months. If you put someone on too much, sometimes, they become too common. Some eventually build-up to the room can handle it. You don’t want people to get sick of people.
I’m going to be knocking on your door soon about two fabulous new artists signed to Universal. One in the UK and one in the US. I’m rich. I’m going to have my manager hat on saying, “Eden, remember that show.”
What you’re saying is that anybody reading the blog who’s something special could submit their music to you? Does it have to be all official and go through your people and their people? Could it be the average person who’s super uber talented send you their music and it’s a question of the right timing?
Yeah, they can send me links at my email which is EdenRue@Gmail.com. If they have live links, that’s the best thing. I can listen to them all day, produced and all that. It doesn’t mean anything to me. If they have live performance links somewhere that I can see them performing live and they have a following, I do my best to listen to everyone. I might not get to it right away. Remember, I get bombarded but I have found many doing that.
You gave Eden the output. She gave out her email address. If you are reading and you feel like you’re something special or someone super special that can rival the legend and stand up at Vibrato, I would definitely encourage you to send your music away. That’s life and that’s the entertainment industry is the right time at the right place.
Here’s the thing, don’t take it personally. We’re not sure if it’s a fit until Hussain says, “I’ll listen to it,” and I’ll say, “What do you think?” Sometimes, it’s not a fit. We have to keep it at a certain level and I might be wrong. We’re not always right. I’ve hired the wrong people sometimes and 90% I get it right but sometimes I get it wrong.
The message is regardless of how many noes you get. Honestly, keep trying and keep pushing. No is not in your vocabulary. Keep going.
No means not right now. It doesn’t mean no forever like that. It doesn’t mean right this second, but it doesn’t mean it can never happen. Don’t ever let what I say or anyone else says take your dream away because everyone has a talent that’s something that was taken away from me. I love my dad but they did something mean when I was younger. I would record little songs and they would say, “They were awful.” I’ll never sing for anybody again.
We know the Simon Cowell effect of saying it as it is even if he’s calmed down a little bit.
There’s no reason to get nasty.
With that said though, some people and their parents think that they are much more than they are as well. Sometimes, it takes for somebody to go, “You cannot.”
There’s a way of saying it that can be constructive criticism rather than annihilating some of those higher in life.
Simon is doing it on purpose. He’s on a TV show and he had to be a meanie. That’s his whole role. He’s not there to make friends. He’s there to be the bad guy.
He has calmed down though.
When people get aggressive with me, sometimes, we have to get aggressive back. There have been those moments, but I’m not professional on this anymore. Go somewhere else. If you think you’re that good, someone’s going to book you. I personally can’t sing. Everyone apparently has it in them but keep trying. It’s like people have gone back on The Voice. I don’t know how many times and they get on the second or third time.
I have been in the music industry for many years now and it’s probably the hardest industry out there too. Particularly now, it’s harder to break into so you have to keep on slugging away until your break comes.
Perseverance is the key to success, they say.
Sometimes, someone’s just not ready. Mindi Abair is a prime example. She is a saxophonist and beautiful. I found her down at the Promenade before she was anyone. She’s a famous saxophone player and she’s gorgeous. I brought her into our publishing company and they didn’t feel she was ready and now, she’s huge. It’s a timing thing. Everyone needs to be patient and not everyone has it. Another thing that my dad taught me was you could do a cover of any song. Don’t sound like that artist. Make it yours. That’s what Brenna does. She takes a cover, makes it hers, owns it her way and rearranges it. If you can do that, don’t be exactly like those artists. We have plenty of those cover bands and that’s great if you want to be a wedding band performer.
Eden Alpert, you’ve been such a special guest to have on the show. It’s been an honor. Go check out Vibrato Jazz & Grill at the Glen Center in Bel-Air. I’ve blown LA’s best kept hidden secret. If you love live music, especially on the jazz scene, that’s the place to go. Eden, it’s been special having you. Thank you for joining us. I hope you’ll join us again soon.
I would love to. If anyone wants to look at our calendar, you can go to VibratoGrillJazz.com and see who’s performing and cover charges, our menu and everything like that are there.
Thank you. It’s such a pleasure.
Thank you to our readers. Thank you to Eden Alpert, The Vibrato Jazz club.
About Eden Alpert
Daughter of Grammy Award winner Herb Alpert, and co-owner of the famous Jazz Supper Club, “Vibrato Grill, Jazz.” in Bel Air.