Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss Meets Sam Most

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The success of this summit by two once lost but re-emerging bebop heroes proves that the love of jazz is strong enough to conquer all inner demons, no matter how long those demons hang around. Recorded in March, 2006 at Steamers Jazz Club in Fullerton, CA, this date would be a truly enjoyable straight-ahead excursion even without a knowledge of the fascinating individual histories of clarinet great Mort Weiss and flutist/tenor saxman (and vocalist) Sam Most. But let's paint the picture: as a teen, Weiss was playing on TV with the Freddie Martin Orchestra, "the band of tomorrow" behind Merv Griffin and Frank Morgan. After playing tenor in the army, he became a pro saxman for years in R&B and jazz bands in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest. Drugs destroyed the dream in the '60s, but he rebounded to open a famed sheet music shop in Orange County, CA in the late '70s. Seeing a flyer at a local college that asked "Do You Want To Play Jazz?" Weiss shook 35 years of dust off his clarinet and soon released No Place to Hide with guitarist Ron Eschete on his own label. He has been active ever since, playing with, among others Joey DeFrancesco and Terry Gibbs. And Sam Most? In the early '50s, he emerged as one of the first major jazz flutists, but has not recorded much since the late '70s. Fascinating story, but has time been kind to these young at hearts? Thankfully, yes! The opening track on Mort Weiss Meets Sam Most, "Four" jets along briskly, with Weiss playing jovially over the subtle seven-string guitar of Eschete and the groove combo of Luther Hughes (acoustic bass) and Roy McCurdy. Jerome Kern's "I'm Old Fashioned" is given a gently swinging, lyrical treatment (with much room for soloing), and on Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia," Weiss swirls his way amiably over the polyrhythmic magic of McCurdy. Most's semi-talking vocals on "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" let us know that he should focus more on the flute and sax, but it's still sensual in its way. Other highlights on this lively set are Fats Waller's fluttery "Jitterbug Waltz" (which features an incredible flute solo by Most) and a zany ride through "With a Song in My Heart." Indeed, the two old men discover the fountain of jazz youth by "singing" those songs with a passion that the world needs to hear more of.

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