October 2006

Mort Weiss and Sam Most - Mort Weiss Meets Sam Most
SMS Jazz 377704
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Katherine Silkaitis

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

This aptly titled CD opens with the smooth sounds of Mort Weiss’s clarinet setting the tone of the album: evocative, soothing and quintessential jazz.

Though the two are not far apart in age, Weiss has a five-disc history with SMS Jazz, while Most has a five-decade history on many labels, including Prestige, Vanguard, Bethlehem and Xanadu. Their ages and seasoned life experiences play an important role in the album, a live recording from March of this year. Weiss’s clarinet has a worn, welcoming tone and Most (on flute, tenor sax and voice) plays and sings like a wise old man, which he likely is.

The two play well together, along with guitarist Ron Eschete, drummer Roy McCurdy and bassist Luther Hughes. The group members feed off each other, and their familiarity with and passion for the music are especially evident in the instrumentals, including "Jitterbug Waltz," which also features two memorable solos from both headliners. Here, Weiss’s control of his instrument is impeccable and inspiring. His clarinet is always even-toned, expressive and, perhaps most important, audible.

The recording quality of the album is, for the most part, excellent, especially for a live recording at a club. The woodwinds are always discernible and at the forefront, while the drums keep the beat steady without being overbearing. The bass, however, could have used some augmentation, as on some solos it is hardly noticeable.