For those that regularly follow the Eden’s Island Blog, you may have noticed that jazz saxman Mort Weiss recently commented on one of our blogs.
Back in the day, Weiss went by the name Mort Wise, and, with his band the Wisemen, recorded one of Eden Ahbez’s tunes—”Wild Boy”—for Sierra Records in June 1959.
A few days after commenting, Weiss contacted me by private email, where our conversation continued.
First of all, how did he come to know Ahbez? “We both were working out of the same agency at the time,” says Weiss, naming World Artist Management (then on Wilshire Boulevard in West Hollywood).
Speaking of the times in which they met, Weiss continues:
“He was a bit before/after his time and was a very nice, gentle man. [‘Wild Boy’] was towards the end of my rock & roll tenor sax life, before re-entering the real world for a time being.”
(Weiss apparently exited the music scene for several decades before re-emerging as a serious jazz artist. See his website here.)
Regarding the actual recording session, Weiss recalls Ahbez being present when “Wild Boy” was cut. “That’s when I first met him,” he says. “Here’s this Christ-like figure speaking with a very pronounced Brooklyn regional dialect… long hair, flowing white gowns, et al.”
As for those animal sounds heard in the background, Weiss remembers well who yelped them:
“ME!!,” he exclaims, continuing, “That was back in the day when overdubbing was just getting started. I believe that we just had a two-track board and I think it was recorded at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood.”
Asked whether Ahbez was happy with the results, Weiss says simply, “Don’t know. We went our separate ways after.”
Asked then whether the Wisemen ever played “Wild Boy” in concert, Weiss says they did not, concluding that “Eden was just trying to make some money with the onset of all the bubblegum (pre-Beatles) that was happening during the time.”
Alas, these many years later, Weiss still thinks very little of the tune he and Ahbez recorded together. He calls “Wild Boy” a “piece of shit” on his website. Despite my telling him otherwise, he insists, “Beauty is in the eyes.”
Ahh, Mort! Lighten up, will ya? We dig it.