This point is proven in this new CD, a live session led by Mort Weiss on clarinet and Sam Most on tenor and flute. For both, this date, recorded at Steamers in Fullerton, Ca., serves as a renaissance.
Weiss dropped out of music entirely in the early ‘60s, returning to jazz after 35 years. He began recording for SMSJazz in 2003. This quintet set marks his fourth recent recording.
Co-leader on the date, Most gained the height of his fame in the ‘50s for his flute work. He was recognized as a big influence on Rashaan Roland Kirk. He has, however, been largely out of the recoding mainstream in the last three decades. Joining the two here are Ron Eschete on seven-string guitar, Luther Hughes, bass, and Roy McCurdy, drums.
The session gets off to a romping start with Miles Davis’ "Four," McCurdy’s brisk drumbeat giving way to Weiss’ up-tempo clarinet. Next, on "I’m Old Fashioned," the listener is mesmerized by Most’s breathy tone on tenor, a la Lester Young. But it is Eschete’s guitar, laying out a graceful single-note cushion that comfortably bundles the relaxed 13-minute track. This West Coast artist may be the most underappreciated musician around.
On "Night in Tunisia," Weiss' exotic clarinet sets the scene with McCurdy’s percussion providing the middle-eastern flavor. Most treats us with a vocal on "I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good" in a witty Bob Dorough-hipster style, preceding his double-tonguing frenzy of a solo.
"Jitterbug Waltz" gives both reed men time to shine. Weiss begins the buoyant melody and then Most takes over before they trade solos at the end. Enough cannot be said for the the solid backing of Hughes’ bass and McCurdy’s drum, on this and throughout the session.
The venerable "Poor Butterfly" from 1913 is given new wings here. Weiss’ ethereal clarinet makes it soar while Most brings it back to earth with his funky flute.
The band really swings on "With A Song In My Heart." Weiss’ straight forward clarinet states the melody, with Eschete syncopating in the background. Then the group gets hot when the rhythm section turns up the burners. Finally the clarinet and flute in unison turn the heat down.
Aptly enough, after having started with Miles, the CD closes with a homage to bebop-a medley of Bird’s "Donna Lee" and Pettiford’s "Blues in the Closest." The two leaders seemingly shed years with their sprinting pace. This is a great way to end this serendipitous get-together.