Nov 11, 2011

Mort Weiss Bops With the Best of Them on Latest CD

Mort Weiss has been around. Born in 1935, he picked up the clarinet early and in high school developed a love for jazz. As a teen he stood outside clubs listening to the likes of Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz before being drafted and ending up in the Army band. After the service he toured for awhile with R&B and rock groups, playing tenor sax. But he got tired of the road and eventually started his own music store.

Then, about a decade ago, Weiss returned to playing, and to the clarinet. He met the terrific guitarist Ron Eschete and the two have recorded several albums together, including one with Joey DeFrancesco on the Hammond B3 organ. His latest release, "Mort Weiss Meets Bill Cunliffe," pairs him with the pianist and a talented band on a set of jazz chestnuts.

The vibe is mostly one of a loose jam session; on Luiz Bonfa's "The Gentle Rain" the pace is sedate, with the rhythm section (Chris Conner on bass, Roy McCurdy drums) leaving Weiss and the other players plenty of space in which to chart some limpid, unhurried solo work. Things pick up on Charlie Parker's "Dewey Square;" here, the band tightens up and Weiss gets to show off his fleet-fingered skills as a bebopper. And on Gershwin's "Who Cares" the septuagenerian fires off a blazing solo that shows he's still got his chops.

The album has a few oddities. There's a track of spoken-word Kerouac, and another featuring Weiss' grandsons playing a sugary pop song. It's a sweet gesture, but sounds jarring in the middle of an album of otherwise well-executed and very swinging tunes.

-Tony Rogers


  1. Don't you just love adjectives used by reviewers. It's as if they're trying desperately to describe the indescribable and haven't grasped the futility of the task. Nouns and verbs best tell the story; the rest is cellulite.

  2. I recall this. Seems long ago. Great PR, Mort.