All Too Soon
Mort was born in McKeesport, PA. in 1935. When he was nine, he was given an uncle's metal clarinet and started taking lessons. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was ten where he continued with his classical music studies through high school and a year at Westlake School of Music. Among his teachers was Antonio Remondi, the respected clarinetist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. During his years in high school, Mort appeared as a soloist in a number of live TV performances both in Los Angeles and New York as well as playing in local community bands. It was while he was in high school that Mort was introduced to jazz, and it quickly became his major interest. He stood in back alleys by open kitchen doors listening to Miles, Dexter, Buddy, Getz and all the others. He learned the blues from "Senator" Gene Wright, well-known bassist, visited jazz clubs and played in after-hours jam sessions whenever chance presented itself. Practicing 8 to 10 hours a day and playing with other aspiring jazz muscians kept him busy. At age 19, Mort was drafted into the Army and played in the Army Band. It was during his tour of duty tht he learned the tenor saxophone and started gigging in R&B bands in and around Kansas City, Kansas, forming his own group after his discharge. He toured the mid-west, Las Vegas and Los Angeles with his band, playing mostly R&B and Rock & Roll on the tenor sax. In 1965, he stopped playing, tired of his life-style and the music he had to play in order to make a living. Mort went to work in a music store, eventually managing a chain of stores before he opened his own, The Sheet Music Shoppe, which has been in business for 23 years and is now the premier print music store in the West. But Mort has a major natural talent for jazz and a great love for the clarinet. An acquaintence remembers that he never saw Mort without his clarinet case in his hand. He practiced continuously, even practicing clarinet on breaks during gigs when he was playing tenor sax. His talent and the results of his hard work have remained with him. Although getting back into playing jazz had been a longtime dream for Mort, a flyer from a nearby college "Do you want to Play Jazz??", recruiting players for a jazz combo, enticed him to get his clarinet out of the case and begin practicing. That was in July 2001. By October Mort had met Ron Eschete' and the two had started playing together on a regular basis. In December, the first SMS Jazz CD was cut. A double CD album "No Place To Hide" consisting of 19 songs was released in April 2002 with Ron Eschete' playing a 7 string guitar and Mort Weiss on clarinet, a rare combination. Since then Mort has played in a number of local jazz clubs. He and Ron have recorded in a quartet with Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond B3 and Ramon Banda on drums, a CD which will be released in September 2003. There are others pending. Mort's playing style has been compared to such diverse entities as Jackson Pollack and Paul Desmond. His natural musical talent combine with his facility on the clarinet to produce his very own unique style.