When Mort Weiss turned thirty in 1965, he tired of the music business which had been part of his life for ten years. In a turnabout career move, he began work in a music store, then managing a chain of stores before eventually opening his own premier print music store. After nearly forty years, he has reconsidered this move. Though he never gave up his beloved clarinet, Weiss began to perform in public and record. The Four of Us is his third release since his clarinet reawakening. This album features a series of well-known standards.
Weiss sounds remarkably like Paul Desmond so inevitably most of the initial tracks on the The Four of Us have that airy aloofness of 50s cool jazz. This changes dramatically when the band tackles "Over the Rainbow." This is played as spare as a prairie horizon that measures up to some of the great renditions. By rendering it spare, soft and slow, Weiss and guitarist, Ron Eschete, bring out the innate loneliness and silent desperation. On the next cut, the band takes on Sonny Rollins’calypso-inflected "St. Thomas." It’s a nice cover and the band is given time to stretch and swing, but it remains restrained while others tinker deliriously at the edge. Gershwin’s "Embraceable You" is naturally gorgeous and this is not an exception. Oscar Pettifog’s "Blues in the Closet" is a beautiful way to end this set.
The Four of Us benefits from the warmth of being a live recording at Steamers Jazz Club and Café in the Los Angeles area. The overall effect is restrained but not stiff, reflective but not cold.