Mose Allison – American Legend, Live In California (2015)

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So Mose Allison has a new album out and this one from the crooner/pianist/composer is a club date document (he’s been doing a lot of those lately). American Legend, Live In California (IBis Recordings) is a trio setting and he reels off quick, three minute ditties, a few you’ve heard of (“Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me”, “You Are My Sunshine”) and a bunch of silly ones you most likely haven’t unless you follow Allison, because Mose came up with these ditties himself. His vocal style is an odd warble that doesn’t project very forcefully. In all, it’s no real variation from the jazz/blues/folk template he established from his first album, 1957’s Back Country Suite.

And yet, I’m drawn to it all the same. The charm and wit of Mose Allison is a difficult thing to resist.

Backed by drummer and album producer Pete Magadini, with Bill Douglas on bass, Allison, who turns 88 on Wednesday (November 11), actually performed these tracks back in 2006 when he was still only in his seventies with a career that had already spanned over five decades at this time.

Allison gives fans what they want to hear, from the hilarious “You Call It Joggin’,” to the grin-inducing “Certified Senior Citizen” to the Bonnie Raitt-covered “”Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy.” Though he’s an underrated accompanist, Allison doesn’t really cut loose on piano a lot until the last encore; lively, short two-fisted jaunts in the middle and at the end of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” and then fully reveals his (and his band’s chops for the lone, long instrumental tacked on to the end, “No Name.”

It might be an overused title to attach to someone, but it holds so true for Mose Allison: he’s an American Original. Yes, and an American Legend, too. The purpose served well by American Legend, Live In California is to remind us of that, and we’re lucky to have him still in our midst because he’s the first and the last of a line.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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