Bassist from San Antonio, Texas, who started out on the ukulele at the tender age of six and eventually graduated to bass and guitar. His professional career as a musician started with a dance outfit in his home town when he was only seventeen years old. Later on, he would hit the road and play with similar groups in Missouri and Arkansas, and spent some time in an Army Air Force band.
Upon moving to L.A. in 1947, he quickly found himself playing with Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars. He also proved to be a valuable session man, recording with the likes of Benny Goodman and Jess Stacy in the 1950s. Around this time, he hooked up with Pete Fountain, and was a member of his quartet and quintet. Many of their recordings are available on Pete Fountain Presents the Best of Dixieland, released on CD in 2001, and recorded between 1950 and 1968.
Morty also performed on Bob Crosby’s TV program from 1954 to 1957, along with Jack Sperling, a drummer who was also in The Pete Fountain Quintet. In 1956, Morty appeared on the Kid Ory album, This Kid’s the Greatest! Around this time, he was also making preparations for his first, and it turns out, only album as a bandleader, Strictly from Dixie, released in 1957. In 1958, he made another foray into television, this time on Playhouse 90 with The Kingston Trio. He also recorded “Scarlet Ribbons” with the trio and was back in the studio with Pete Fountain for Pete Fountain’s New Orleans, which hit the shelves in 1959. On 16th March 1961, The Pete Fountain Quintet performed in concert at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California.
During his time in California, Morty became very enamoured of Disneyland, and they, him. He performed in several bands at Disneyland, and introduced his son Gary to The Imagineers, who were instrumental in the building of the Hallowed Haunting Grounds. Morty turned his own house into a hallowed haunting ground in 1973, an avocation that became more and more elaborate over the years. Culling tricks of the trade from the special effects people at Disney, he made sure his house was the place to trick-or-treat on Halloween until his death in 1996.
There are plenty of opportunities to hear Morty’s bass lines in the CD era, on albums such as Benny Goodman Chronological Classics 1951-1952, Ricky Nelson’s For You: The Decca Years, and The Very Strange Story of Dean Reed: The Red Elvis! (Now, that’s scary.)
Here he is playing bass with the Bob Wilber Quartet in a performance of “Limehouse Blues”..