In tenth grade, I played keyboards in a short-lived band called Five Below Zero. My two closest friends in the band were Danny Cornfield (sax) and Chuck Weiss (guitar).
As Chuck comped rhythm licks on his Gibson guitar, his trademark black glass would start to creep down the bridge of his nose. He was ‘into it’, and he oozed talent.
Chuck’s older brother, Jerry was one of the founding members of Blood, Sweat & Tears, a band that would cement a growing category in bands. Its fusion of jazz, rock, blues, and soul would emerge as a force in horn-fused music, and would channel my interest, for life.
Al Kooper launched BS&T, fashioned its first album, Child is Father to the Man. Hearing the band in its formative performances at the Cafe Au Go Go was an amazing view of musicians, on-the-launch-pad.
Unfortunately, political in-fighting among the members caused a restructuring of the band, shortly after its first album release. The group’s trumpeters, Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss, both left, and were replaced. Brecker joined Horace Silver‘s band with his brother Michael, and together they eventually formed their own horn-dominated musical outfits, Dreams and The Brecker Brothers.
Weiss went on to found Ambergris, a Latin-Rock-Soul group. Also a horn band, Ambergris included Larry Harlow, in its lineup. Harlow went on to a legendary career in Latin music.
I had the privilege of hearing Ambergris, a couple of times at The Fillmore East. The band performed a hybrid of originals and covers. In the band’s earliest days, it would play Tuesday night (showcase night) at The Fillmore. You never quite knew what rising stars might grace the stage.
One memorable cover was a Latin rendition of the Beatles’ Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey. Harlow would record that song with his own band, Orquestra Harlow, as the title track. The album would become a huge success.
- Part 2 of this post – 1/18/12