Mort Weiss: The B3 and Me

The B3 and Me, an unusual clarinet/organ combo date, was kept on the shelf for three years by a contractual tie-up. Weiss still can’t list his collaborator’s name on the cover, but it’s Joey DeFrancesco, burning up the keyboard on nine standards and backed by a hard-driving rhythm section. The 71-year-old Weiss easily keeps pace on the fast numbers, pouring forth mad bebop flutterings, while at medium tempos the two leaders strike up a surprisingly easy and fluid rapport. Although the combination of timbres can be jarring when Weiss and DeFrancesco play melodies together, the exciting solo passages are more than adequate compensation.

Weiss’ album with the underrated flutist-saxophonist Sam Most is another happy surprise. This swinging gig at Steamers in Los Angeles was recorded live, with no prior rehearsals or warm-ups. But Weiss is fully in his element. He tackles the material with gusto and conviction, attacking at flank speed on half the tunes and falling back to relaxed tempos for the rest. Most, the elder statesman here at 75, contributes a breathy elegance on tenor sax and some sweetly popping turns on flute. His uniquely whispery hipster vocals add some extra charm midway through the set.