Piano-less bands always grab my attention because the lightness and roominess of the music pull me in. This group, featuring 69 year-old Mort Weiss on clarinet and Ron Eschete on seven-string guitar, is quite reminiscent of the classic Paul Desmond quartet. Both lead voices have a cool and dry tone, with only minor influences by Charlie Parker, and they deliver straight-ahead jazz with no frills or gimmickssimple, smooth sailing over a glassy sea.
Supported by Los Angeles heroes Roy McCurdy (drums) and Dave Carpenter (bass), the front line simmers through a set of standards with deceptive ease. Weiss is gentle and lyrical on Gershwin's "Embraceable You" and percussive on Sonny Rollins' familiar "St. Thomas." Eschete's tone is palpably rich, as evidenced on "East of the Sun." Not falling into the trap of too many modern clarinetists, Weiss is confident enough in his sound to not overwhelm the audience with a mind-numbing flurry of notes.
No one is in a rush here. Instead, The Four of Us lets the music do its job. That is the real sign of greatness. It was definitely smoking at Steamers the night this was recorded.
Personnel: Mort Weiss: clarinet; Ron Eschete: guitar; Dave Carpenter: bass; Roy