Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Herman "Trigger" Alpert: 1916-2013; Broke Musician Made an Impression - on Glenn Miller Bass Player Performed across Europe in World War II, Settled in Ponte Vedra

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Herman "Trigger" Alpert: 1916-2013; Broke Musician Made an Impression - on Glenn Miller Bass Player Performed across Europe in World War II, Settled in Ponte Vedra

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel

Ponte Vedra Beach's Trigger Alpert, who as an exuberant young stand-up bass player was credited with adding some needed swing to Glenn Miller's famous big band, died Dec. 21 at an assisted-living facility in Jacksonville Beach. He was 97.

Mr. Alpert was a favorite of the band leader, who was declared missing in action after he disappeared in December 1944 on a flight from England to France.

In a 2009 Times-Union interview, he said he was crushed by Miller's death - and said he regretted he hadn't been an even better friend to him.

"I loved the guy," Mr. Alpert said. "He was so good to me. He was like a father to me, and I was a jerk. Swell-headed."

Rob Ronzello, a Connecticut man who's writing a book on musicians who played with Miller, became a friend of Mr. Alpert, whom he last visited in 2011. He said he has spoken to more than 50 band members, who all credited Mr. Alpert with putting some needed swing into a rhythm section that many had labeled stodgy.

Miller appreciated the bass player's talent, Ronzello said. But the often stoic band leader liked him for more than that.

"Trigger had a joie de vivre, such an outgoing carefree attitude," he said. "Glenn loved the guy. He was like the son Glenn had never had."

Mr. Alpert was born in 1916 and raised in Indiana. His first name was Herman, but he'd been known as Trigger since he was 5 or 6, he said in his 2009 interview. He said he wasn't sure how he got that nickname, but he was sure that Trigger was a better name for an aspiring musician than Herman.

Mr. Alpert was just 24 in 1940, a broke musician in New York City, when he was invited to join the superstar's band. Before he was drafted in 1941, Mr. Alpert appeared with Miller in numerous concerts and in the film "Sun Valley Serenade."

Miller himself later joined the Army Air Corps as a captain and set about forming an all-star band to raise morale and money for the war effort. …

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