Mose Allison, American Legend – Live In California – Ibis

by | Nov 21, 2015 | Jazz CD Reviews

Mose Allison, American Legend – Live In California – Ibis Recordings 1754 [Distr. By City Hall Records], 54:36 ****:

(Mose Allison – piano & vocals; Bill Douglas – bass; Pete Magadini – drums)

“Old man Mose ain’t dead” takes liberties with the lyrics from the Louis Armstrong song Old Man Mose. In fact, Mose Allison is still alive and well at eighty-eight this year. This live recording was completed in 2006 when he was a spry seventy-eight. However, according to Pete Magadini, writing on (and who was the drummer on this session) this will be the final release of material from this period in his life. So take advantage of this information, and avail yourself of music from one of the true originals in jazz and blues.

It is worth remembering that Mose Allison began his recording career in 1957 as the pianist in a session with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims for a Coral Records release entitled Al and Zoot. In the same year, Allison recorded an album with Stan Getz called The Soft Swing. In those days he was a bop-influenced pianist who had yet to venture into a singer-songwriter role. That began in a modest way on his first release for Prestige Records in 1957 called Back Country Suite on which he offered two vocals “Young Man Blues” and “One Room Country Shack”. Nevertheless, with his ironic and idiosyncratic singing style, he began a brilliant career that has spanned a half a century to the delight of his committed audience.

Recorded live at 19 Broadway, Fairfax, California from October 22-24,2006, we are offered a potpourri of short musical vignettes, that reveal the arc of many of his original compositions, interspersed with covers of numbers from some of his favorite composers. His lyrics are often filled with pithy commentary about the human condition such as Your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime. On “City Home” he plays up the irony, and with “Ever Since The World Ended” he demonstrates a somber take on life’s fragility. Allison could also take the work of other composers and provide his own coloration to their material. For example with Duke Ellington’s “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” he offers a lilting version filled with a lovely backbeat. On “Lucky So & So” he finds a relaxed zone that is precise, yet with billowy undercurrents. He takes Big Joe Williams’ tune “Baby Please Don’t Go” at a fast clip, full of New Orleans jambalaya.

In an interview for The Wall Street Journal on September 1, 2010, writer Marc Myers described Mose Allison as follows: “Mr. Allison is an original…he is also a blues-singer,a country-music storyteller, a folk-rock subversive”. All these traits are on full display in this ultimate release from Mose Allison.

TrackList: I Don’t Want Much; City Home; Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy; Certified Senior Citizen; Your Mind Is On Vacation; One Of These Days; You Are My Sunshine; Ever Since The World Ended; Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me; Middle-Class White Boy; Lucky So & So; Stranger In My Hometown; Numbers On Paper; You Call It Joggin’; My Backyard; You Can Count On Me; Tumblin’ Tumbleweed; Baby Please Don’t Go; No Name.

—Pierre Giroux

Related Reviews