Chapter 6 AN: ... Herb Alpert created an industry of music recording that was incredible. It was his music, most of his arrangements, he had them all copyrighted, produced, he owned a recording company. FB: A&M Records. AN: Yeah. He owned everything. So the money just came in, like open barrels, flowing in -- and such a gracious guy. If you noticed on Channel 2 many times you'll watch a good music show or whatever, an opera, whatever it is, Herb Alpert Foundation. He donated over 20 or 25 million dollars to a school in California. FB: He built this library. AN: He built here at Berklee. FB: He named it after Stan Getz. AN: Well, there you go. He was a very generous guy. And I am still emulating him with my scholarship. FB: There you go. That's right. AN: So, one follows the other. FB: Herb was quite amazing. His entrepreneurial instincts must've inspired a lot of guys to do soup-to-nuts production of their own music. AN: I would guess so, sure. FB: I mean maybe Quincy Jones. AN: Well, Quincy 'cause of strictly jazz, he wrote that. He also was a student here at Berklee. He lived here in Boston for a while. I never did get to meet him then. Charlie Lake and he were in the same class. FB: Is that a fact? AN: That's right. Charlie Lake and Quincy Jones were in the same class. Charlie played the trumpet, you know? FB: I do know that. AN: He didn't follow it, through. He decided to do what he did. FB: They were probably in the same section. AN: Could be. FB: Didn't think of that. AN: That I don't remember. What can you say about Quincy Jones? He was incredible. Genius. FB: Let's see. AN: Also with me on the Tijuana band to begin was Alan Dawson on drums. Alan was a very flexible guy. He'd play wherever you put him, but he'd get it well. FB: Perfect. AN: His thing was jazz. FB: He was also a monster on vibes, if you could get him to bring them to the gig. AN: Yeah, they are heavy to carry. FB: Wicked. AN: Of course you know, he worked with Dave Brubeck for a while, Lionel Hampton. He played with a lot of orchestras. FB: He certainly did. AN: Wonderful person, Alan Dawson, great guy. FB: We should segue into your work with the union 'cause that's a whole 'nother life of Al Natale. AN: Let me correct one thing, not so much as a correction, professionally, many say Al 'NA-tuh-lee, but it's really Na-'TA-lee. Al N, a, t, a, l, e. But when I went to parochial school the nuns pronounced it 'Nat-uh-lee, they put the '-lie' but it's really Na-'TA-lee. 'Natale' in Italian mean 'Christmas,' so when it's Christmas time you wish someone a merry Christmas in Italian you say, "Buon Natale." I have a part of the year every year. Anyway getting back to the union, I decided to get into the ... just to change my life, keep life interesting. "What is this all about - union?" and so on and so forth, parliamentary procedure, and so on and so forth, for meetings. And I decided to run for the board of directors. I really showed the members that I wanted the job. I, like a politician would do, I went out and talked with all of the guys, I'd have the card printed, I'd go out and meet with different guys, and let them know that I am running for the board of directors. FB: You campaigned. AN: I campaigned, yes, on my own. FB: What piqued this interest? If you were a happy musician working week-to-week, why did you want that in your life? AN: I don't know just something in me that lead me that way. And I'm happy it did because I feel that I did quite a bit of good for the younger musicians and I'll explain that in a while. But, at that time, the older guys were (armours) in office and while I was them there was a bit of touch and go between the older players and younger players with the union and stuff like that. So, I decided to get in there which I did. I was elected by a very good majority and I stayed on the board for a few years, learned the ropes. On my own, I went through the labor guild, which had placed a school, private school, where the other people working were either carpenters or sheet metal workers or plumbers joined the union but never a musician. And it's affiliated with the state council. So I decided to go there and learn parliamentary procedure and so forth. And when I introduced myself at the first class, I introduced myself, I said, "Yes, I am a musician. I represent the musician's union." You think it was like, "Where do you come from?" It surprised them. FB: They know about the teamsters, they know about the autoworkers, but -- musicians? AN: And we were a union for many years. And I might add that musicians union is one of your biggest entertainment unions in the world. We have locals all over Canada, Alaska, The United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, all part of the American Federation of Musicians. So it's quite an organization, internationally. So anyway I went to this labour guild, I learned my parliamentary procedure so I would know how to run these meetings and how they would try and run it. And as you know, oftentimes the loud-mouth tries to dominate a meeting and if you know your parliamentary procedure, you can handle that. And that's the idea of knowing parliamentary procedure, is to give everyone an equal chance to speak and to be heard. So I utilized that very well. And then I decided after doing that for a years to run for vice-president. I was still playing at the time, too. So, I again campaigned for vice-president. And many guys said to me, "Why do you want to do that?" You just asked me, "Why get involved with that?" I said, "Well, I felt in need for it." And, again, I enjoyed it, and part of my job as vice-president was to go to different clubs. At that time we had minimums, certain rooms you had so many musicians and other locals had two. That was part of my job to see that. I would go from one club to another, or one hotel to another, whatever, or a concert hall to see that they had the right number of musicians performing. Sometimes you wouldn't find it so. I was quite liberal, so I kept things pretty comfortable. And I got to talk with a lot of the younger musicians and listen to what their complaints were with the union. I tried to do what I could to help it along and I helped a lot of fellows that were on the road. FB: Maybe you could explain a bit more the union concept.