Friday, August 26, 2011

Black White and Blue: Mose Allison

Mose John Allison Jr.

Followers of the Washerman’s Dog and others know that Mose Allison holds a special place in the universe. My 8 year old was named after him (that decision made several years before he was born) and over the years I’ve given countless friends, ‘introductory’ CDs of the blackest white blues singer alive.

Born before electricity came to his home town of Tippo, Mississippi, deep in the cotton belt of the southern USA,  Mose grew up listening to the radio and that pre-historic version of the iPod, a jukebox. He heard jazz on the latter and blues and Louis Jordan on the former.  After several lessons on the piano that began when he was five years old, he dumped the teacher in preference to picking out his own tunes.  Amazingly, for the time, his parents supported his musical inclination and in the early 1950s he found himself in New York City. ''When I first came to New York jazz clubs, I was somewhat of a freak singing blues,'' he told an interviewer. ''No one had heard of Muddy Waters. They questioned, was I valid, authentic? Some people still think I'm black. I take it as a compliment.''

On another occasion Mose said, ''There are two kinds of musicians, those who go directly to the audience and become popular, and those who go indirectly from other musicians. I have been able to survive because of other musicians.''  Indeed, though Mose has been playing for 7 decades (!) and has always been loved by the critics and written his fair share of classics (Parchman Farm, Young Man Blues) whatever ‘popularity’ he has gained has come from admiring peers.
"When I discovered Mose Allison I felt I had discovered the missing link between jazz and blues"
Ray Davies
"The man’s voice was heaven. So cool, so decisively hip... Mose was my man. I felt him to be the epitome of restrained screaming power."
Pete Townshend

Tonight’s selection is a fantastic album. Not one of the early classics of his early career but the sardonic reflections of a man facing the winter of his years. Slightly bemused by the pace of technology but giving way with a sort of resignation to the march of time. But also not without a portion of the obstreperousness of the senior citizen who is fed up. You get that on the opening track, MJA Jr.

(Mose John Allison Jr/ That’s the only name I’ve ever had/ Don’t call me Moses/ Don’t call me Mo/ Just gonna make my momma mad/ Mose John Allison Jr/ That’s the way its written in the book/Don’t call me Malt/ Don’t call me Moose/ Its not some made up showbiz hook)

The support Mose gets from Russell Malone on guitar and Mark Shim on sax is accomplished, polished and uplifting, making space and setting the pace for Mose’s sly vocalizing and piano playing. A great Friday night treat!


         Track Listing:
       01 MJA Jr
02 Gimcracks and Gewgaws
03 Numbers on Paper
04 Cruise Control
05 St. Louis Blues
06 Mockingbird
07 The More You Get
08 Texanna
09 What Will It Be
10 So Tired
11 Somebody Gonna Have to Move
12 Fires of Spring
13 What's With You
14 Old Man Blues

Listen here.

2 comments:

guillermo said...

what a pleasure, to follow yor suggestions and bright discoveries, read you, and finding joyful shared coincidences such as this one regarding el gran moso! thanks, this one was abig miss...not anymore!
i will be coming back as often as could be.
saludos,
guillermo, from mexico city.

ajnabi said...

guillermo,
welcome aboard. and muchos gracias for your kind words. And glad you now have this fine record.
your blogs look very interesting, alas I can't speak Spanish but obviously a mix of music/art...looks great.