Sex and the Jazz Musician: The Brutal Truth!

Sex and the Jazz Musician: The Brutal Truth!
Mort Weiss By

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The following is taken from the chronicles of a gold panel Committee of select persons from the international confines of various state institutions that hold such findings sacred—the long-term commitment of these individuals that have given rant to their multitudinous ravings on this highly personal topic.

In my course of dumpster diving for salvation, I found these discarded records from the Harding administration that are the most revealing about these ubiquitous and reoccurring problems.

And Now the Brutal Truth!

I actually don't know much about the sex life of a jazz musician even though I am one. Based on the knowledge that I have at hand, it seems to me that it would be a very short story indeed, even leaving delusions of grandeur out of it.

So, what the f**k was that all about? Well, I'll tell ya. If you've read this far, very cool—you're my kind of person and I thank you very much. Here's the main reason for this article—and it's been about a half a year since my last one. We here at All About Jazz corporate are, for the most part, housed in very comfortable surroundings and treated very well. But, as I stated, I've really not turned out much in the way of work re: articles and such for a long time, and when passing each other in the hall (that being Mr. Ricci and Mr. Kelman), I find myself avoiding eye contact with either of these gentlemen. When in close proximity of ether of the two, one feels this source of formidable power and a mindset that bespeaks of industry and exploration as in ad astra—to the stars. OK, stay with me now! Here at corporate, a lot of thought is given to the read count that we writers generate on our respective works that we contribute to the site. So for those of you in Bakersfield—since I ain't done much around here except making and throwing paper airplanes at the time clock—well that puts me into a negative position in the asking and or demanding of certain, shall we say, privileges, ya dig?

All right! Onward. I'm sure that many of you reading this, work in a multilayered corporate environment and understand the goings on of the water cooler politics and such. Is there a thing as steno pools anymore? Stenographer; hmm, must look that up—might as well look up water coolers too. In every lifetime the powers that be deem to throw one a nice big, fat, slow ball pitch right down the middle of the strike zone, and all one has to do is swing the bat for that bases—loaded, peak moment, to blossom forth and travel beyond the pale.

OK. A little wordy but this isn't cheer leading 101 we're talking about, man—this is f*@#cking life! A serendipitous (for me) event has very recently occurred here at corporate, in that musicologist (in residence), Dr. Gregory Gumpharter either fell or was pushed out of the window of his corner office on the 23rd floor of the Tristano Tower building (Mr. Ricci's suite on the 28th floor encompasses the entire sq. footage of said floor, giving him a full, panoramic view of both oceans). Now—now do you see what I'm getting at? The title of an article with sex and jazz in it, I know, if people are like me, they will click on it! Yeah! Now do ya dig? Although it seems as though someone of some prominence just recently said, "Mort, most people aren't like you," hmm. Be that as it may. So now that you're hipped , let's get it on!

The miraculous return of Mort Weiss to the scene after an incredible layoff of 40 years?

"Mort Weiss' return to the jazz scene is one of the happier events in the jazz world in the 21st century," internationally acclaimed writer/jazz historian Scott Yanow said about me.

"Mort Weiss is the Rip van Winkle (times two) and the Thomas Edison of jazz," says AAJ.

And there were, and are, many other recognitions of what I had done on August 14, 2001, and how and why I did it. Let me say in all sincerity how much I appreciate that anyone noticed that I was even there. As to the question mark at the subject line of this, well, therein lays the caveat. Ya see, there was no scene that I was returning to. Yes, I had—back in the day in Los Angeles and Hollywood played—jammed, worked with many who would go on to become not only well-known musicians, but also, some legends of the genre. See my archived AAJ article Ornette and Me. Any notoriety that I might have garnered would have been my R&B and R&R Las Vegas years, when I played the tenor sax exclusively but would always be practicing and making sessions on the clarinet, whereever I was. The clarinet was, and is, the only horn that I ever really worked on, and as I've stated in my archived AAJ article, Trane Clones and the Noose of Technology, I'm not particularly thrilled that it is the axe my folks gave me to play—but at the time (1944) it was what the guitar is today, oh yeah!

For those of you who might want to know a little more about what makes Mort Weiss run, I strongly suggest that you read the profile on me, archived on AAJ, Mort to Come, by the very astute and sensitiveSammy Stein. Even though I had fed him information during the time he was putting the work together, after I read it (I didn't want to see any of it as it developed) I just sat in front of my Mac desk top—oh say for about four or five minutes—just sitting there staring at the screen—and reread it once more. After I was put to bed that night, I found out later that my wife Jeanne had hidden everything sharp or with a point on same, substituting crayons for pens and pencils. Everything reverted back to normal for us in about two or three days. Other than that, it wasn't that interesting to me. Hummph! Go ahead give it a shot—but adults, don't try what you read at home!

Speaking of that profile, Mort To Come, the picture that was used of me at the top of the piece was great! It extolled the virtues and the deep feeling of the very soul of the man and his gestalt of emotion and sensitivity for the entire world, and all of mankind who huddle together for reassurance on this vale of tears and laughter. Look at his eye, the laugh and tear lines of having lived a Faustian mythological life of expectation, only to be dashed against the stones of reality again and again that border the seas of torment and despair. Yet, upon further reflection, one (a woman's most likely) would see the vulnerability of a little boy asking to be—aaaawwww sh@t! Dammmit! I'm freakin' looking at a picture of Peter Brötzmann. Awww, man!

On to other things.

The weekend that I worked with sax legend Teddy Edwards we walked the line. Oh, we surely did. It was sometime during 1964, Teddy and I were picketing a burlesque club in Whittier, California, a small town just east of Los Angeles still within the jurisdiction of Musicians Union Local 47. It was just the two of us and it paid eight dollars an hour, four hours each night. Yeah, the union still had power back then—pre The Beatles and the Class of '65 mentalities that were to prevail. It was cold. Yes, it can get rather cool at night in southern California. Teddy wanted a drink of Scotch but he had a stomach ulcer and was afraid to aggravate the condition with a taste. I was grooving along with a short dog of T-Bird and dropping an occasional Bennie, so I was cool. Occasionally we'd look in the window of the room and dig one of the strippers and the scab band (drums, tenor sax and piano), steadily fucking up "Harlem Nocturne," and like that. Finally, Teddy goes in and orders and gets a glass of milk with a shot of Scotch in it and sits back and digs. After all, he had become a customer. I carried both signs for the moment.

Oh, yeah. Aside from being a great musician, Teddy was as nice a cat as could be—a gentleman. We knew each other from hanging at local 47 and playing at the many sessions in and around L.A. at the time. A must read: A Fireside Chat with Teddy Edwards, on AAJ.

Don Joham. Never heard of him—have you? He was just the world's greatest jazz drummer, and a nice cat. What I've just said about Don was felt among all of us cats and any one that heard him play and or played with him, be they established jazz personalities or fans that were hip to the haps in and around Hollywood and Los Angeles circa 1957-1965. When Don walked into a club that was a known session place, the fuckin,' room lit up—as in "Hey, Don- - all right man—how ya doin'—ya wanna play?"—meaning bypassing some cats that had been waiting hours to get on the stand.

Don, always with a smile on his face would start to mingle, shaking hands and doin' the back and forth verbal dance that all us cats did, back in the day—we were a like minded group that worshiped the ground that the main cats walked on- - and we were trying very hard to learn our craft. I saw little (if any) backstabbing and/or dissing of any kind back in that day. Oh, yeah, when you were on the stand playing "Cherokee" way up and y' all were taking fours or eights and the shit was popping, one tried one's best to burn the cat's shit that came before you. Oh, yeah, that's where you learned to blow.

If there wasn't a pianist there at the time, Don would play piano for the set, and took care of business. Don had absolute perfect pitch, and we tested the shit out of him on it. It would get to the point that I would drop my forearm on the keys with fingers pressing them, and Don with no hesitation would start naming the keys depressed—from left to right or right to left or from inside out or outside in, Yep! And play? The cat was flawless—always in the pocket—always locked with the bass—always listening to and playing for whomever was blowing at that moment—and always picking up on what you were saying on your axe at that moment in time—and giving you a little nudge to make what you said more valid. Oh yeah!


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