Frank Wess on his mother's influence

Now, a Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Stella By Starlight" CD: The Frank Wess Quartet, Prestige/Moodsville OJCCD 1103-2 (MV-8) (cut 4)

Like most kids, NEA JAZZ Master Frank Wess dreamed of the many things he could be when he grew up...

Frank Wess: I wanted to be a cabinetmaker.   Then I wanted to be a dentist, you know...

...but his mother had other ideas.   Remarkably, she steered him towards jazz.

Frank Wess: That was the only thing I could stay up at night to listen to, jazz.   Other than that, I had to be in bed.   But if there's a program coming on the radio, maybe The Mills Brothers or Earl Hines or Duke Ellington or Claude Hopkins or somebody, I could stay up and listen to that.   So she always let me listen to music. (:19)

Wess never even knew of his mother's hopes for him until they were revealed in a conversation with his father years later.   By then, Frank had already been on the road for a decade.

Frank Wess: We were talking about me playing music and being on the road.   And he said, "Your mother always wanted you to be a musician."   Well, that's the first I heard of that.   I guess she was steering me that way anyway, you know.

MUSIC: up and fades under

This Jazz Moment with saxophonist Frank Wess was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Frank Wess on his mother's influence