All About Jazz

Home » Articles » The Mort Report

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Joey DeFrancesco Projects Showed The Difference Between Music, And The Music "Business"

Mort Weiss By

Sign in to view read count
This is the story of two collaborations with Joey DeFrancesco that you almost never saw—or the difference between music ... and the music "business."

The first unreleased album I recorded with Joey DeFrancesco is now known as the Mort Weiss Quartet CD featuring Joey, Ron Eschete and Ramon Banda, followed by 2006's The B3 and Me. Both of them eventually appeared on my own SMS Jazz label, but more on that in a minute.

The original title of the first album was Mort Weiss Meets Joey DeFrancesco, while the follow up was to have been The Joey DeFrancesco Trio featuring Mort Weiss. It was Joey who suggested this to help further my jazz clarinet-playing career. He liked the way I played, and was very supportive of my continuing to play.

We planned to release both of them during the summer of 2003. Joey and I were a little too excited about being musicians and just playing our asses off. I figured since Joey had recorded with many other artists, there would be no problems. Concord Records thought differently.

Joey and I forgot it is the music "business."

I had, through my distributors, placed the original Mort Meets Joey album in all the stores: Tower, Borders, Virgin, etc. Oh, by the way, Concord was getting ready to release their big CD of the season Joe Doggs, and was afraid our CD would hurt their sales.

Bottom line: All the press and radio promotion, club dates, etc., were in order when I was told to stop all the publicity and pull the CDs off the market. Concord decided I could release the CD with the title changed to Mort Weiss Quartet—as long as Joey's name was in small print.

Most of you know my story about giving up music completely for 40 years, and how I came back on the scene in August 2001. So, I had practically no name recognition. I had been, by and large, lucky since my return. World-renowned critics, writers and many of you who are reading this have given my work the highest praise. But now I had to change all of the graphics, all of the artwork and take out a great picture of Joey and all of us on the inside panel, then reissue the whole project once again—at a cost of thousands of dollars.

That was was never recouped. (If you do a Google search on Mort Weiss, you can will find some stores that call the first CD by its original name!) At the time, it was one of the best things any of us had done, musically, and at the same time the worst-selling CD I've ever done.

Fuck it. Onward!: In 2006, I ended up issuing an album called Mort Weiss: The B3 and Me, "featuring a very special guest: The finest jazz organist in the world." No mention of Joey! Why?

I have to repeat this: Joey did everything possible to help me in my musical career. The clarinet and B3 had never recorded before! I received a message on my voicemail one day. It was Joey. I had sent him a studio copy of the second CD. He said: "This record is a bitch! It has to be released!" Then he reiterated that he would do everything in his power to make it happen.

Alas, it was to no avail. Concord would not budge on its position that this CD would never be released. I called and talked to them many times, trying to work out some agreement, but they remained firm.

Life has to go on, so I finally put the CD away in a drawer and closed it—literally and figuratively. When Joey and I would talk, we would lament the fact that it would never be released. Fast forward to April 2006, and I listened again to The Joey CD—as we called it—and was stunned by how great it sounded after all these years. I mixed and mastered it, and it was even better! Once again, I sent Joey a copy and found he was still excited about releasing it.

There followed about 30 phone calls to Concord. I even offered to give them the masters, and all of the profits—telling them Joey and I just wanted this released, if only for the sake of the shit we got going that night. (Altruism at its best!) The final edict from Concord was this: I could release it, but only if Joey's name didn't appear anywhere on the CD or on the radio or in any publicity—nor could his likeness or any part of his persona be used in any way to promote this album.

Only then would they be so nice as to let me go ahead. Thank you, John Burk.

I guess they thought only a fool or an idiot would accept this kind of deal. They hadn't counted on someone being both! Oh, and a true lover of the music!

Always the music.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read No More Excuses People! The Mort Report
No More Excuses People!
by Mort Weiss
Published: September 11, 2015
Read Some Thoughts from the worlds greatest out of work Bebop clarinet player The Mort Report
Some Thoughts from the worlds greatest out of work Bebop...
by Mort Weiss
Published: October 18, 2014
Read My Final Report The Mort Report
My Final Report
by Mort Weiss
Published: May 28, 2014
Read WOW! Bird and Bach: Them two cats really could play! The Mort Report
WOW! Bird and Bach: Them two cats really could play!
by Mort Weiss
Published: January 26, 2014
Read Love... Sorrow... Jazz... and Death The Mort Report
Love... Sorrow... Jazz... and Death
by Mort Weiss
Published: October 1, 2013
Read A Brief History of Ragtime to 3/4 aka A Waltz Through the Cosmic Thought Process The Mort Report
A Brief History of Ragtime to 3/4 aka A Waltz Through the...
by Mort Weiss
Published: August 21, 2013
Read "Live From New York: Sō Percussion, Jack Quartet, Mette Rasmussen, Tashi Dorji & Godspeed You! Black Emperor" Live From New York Live From New York: Sō Percussion, Jack Quartet, Mette...
by Martin Longley
Published: March 25, 2018
Read "Of Things Not Seen" Reassessing Of Things Not Seen
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "Anat Fort Quartet at Cornelia Street Café" Live Reviews Anat Fort Quartet at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Al Di Meola at Balboa Theater" SoCal Jazz Al Di Meola at Balboa Theater
by Jim Worsley
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Take Five with Tony Kofi" Take Five With... Take Five with Tony Kofi
by Tony Kofi
Published: July 31, 2018