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.
Track Listing: Song is You; I Thought About You; East of the Sun; Over the Rainbow; St. Thomas; Stella by
Starlight; Embraceable You; Blues in the Closet.
Personnel: Mort Weiss: clarinet; Ron Eschete: guitar; Dave Carpenter: bass; Roy
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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