I’M NOT TALKIN’-THE SONG STYLINGS OF MOSE ALLISON 1957-1971.

I’M NOT TALKIN’-THE SONG STYLINGS OF MOSE  ALLISON 1957-1971.

During a career that spanned sixty years, Mose Allison influenced several generations of musicians. They were won over by Mose Allison’s unique mix of blues and modern jazz. It found favour with everyone from Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, The Who, The Pixies, the Rolling Stones and the late Leon Russell. Each and every of these musicians and bands were influenced by a Mose Allison. He was described as: “one of the finest songwriters in twentieth century blues,” and wrote song that were “quirky,” and showcased Mose Allison’s “subtle ironic humour.” It will be much missed by his fellow musicians, friends and fans.

Sadly, just four days after celebrating his eighty-ninth birthday, Mose Allison passed away on the 15th September 2016 at his home in California. Music had lost another of its most talented sons. He left behind a rich musical legacy.

This includes the music features in a  recently released compilation of vocal jazz, I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971. It was released by BGP, a subsidiary of Ace Records and features recordings from Mose Allison’s time at Prestige Records, Atlantic Records and Columbia. This was where Mose Allison released some of his finest music. Twenty-four tracks from this period are documented on I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971, which is now a celebration of the life of Mose Allison.

It was on 11th November 1927 that Mose Allison was born on his grandfather’s farm on the Mississippi Delta. By the time Mose Allison was five, curiosity got the better of him. He climbed onto the piano stool, and began to play the piano. Mose Allison it turned out, was a natural, who could play by ear. Soon, he was able to pick out old blues songs and boogie woogie. This was just the start of a lifelong love affair with music.

In high school, Mose Allison love affair with music continued.He joined the school marching band and later, several dance bands. Meanwhile, Mose like many students was drawn to the music of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Louis Jordan. However, his hero and inspiration was Nat King Cole, who lead the King Cole Trio. Later, Mose like his hero Nat King Cole began to write songs. Already the seeds of his future career had been sown.

Unlike many musicians, Mose Allison didn’t embark upon a career as a professional musician when he graduated high school. Instead, he headed to the University of Mississippi. However, Mose’s studies were interrupted, when he received his call up papers in 1946.

Having joined the US Army, Mose Allison, like many musicians, found himself playing in the US Army Band. It was based in Colorado Springs, and this tight, talented band played everywhere from country clubs to NCO and Officer’s clubs. This was good practise for when Mose left the US Army.

After leaving the US Army, Mose Allison returned to Ole Miss. He joined a local dance band as its arranger, piano and trumpeter. This turned out to be a stepping stone.

The next step for Mose Allison was forming his own band. This was the Mose Allison Trio. Mose became the Trio’s pianist, singer and songwriter. However, as a singer, stylistically, Mose drew inspiration from his hero Nat King Cole, plus Errol Gardner and Louis Jordan. With his new Trio, Mose spent the next year touring and honing their sound. Just when it looked like the Trio were making progress, Mose’s circumstances changed.

Following a year spent touring with the Trio, Mose Allison married his then girlfriend. Now a married man, Mose was looking to the future. He decided to complete his studies, and headed to Louisiana State University. By 1952, Mose had completed his studies and graduated with a BA in English and Philosophy. Despite his degree, Mose returned to music. 

Mose Allison was back to playing nightclubs in the across the Southeast and up and down West Coast. Night after night, week after week and month after month, Mose honed what was a unique fusion of disparate styles and influences. The first component was the raw and gritty delta blues Mose heard growing up. To this, Mose added the stylistic influences of a trio of jazz pianist. Al Haig, John Lewis and Thelonius Monk all had their own individual style, which influenced Mose. So had the vocal stylings of blues man Charles Brown and R&B singer Percy Mayfield. What Mose was honing, was a fusion of these styles and influences. 

For four years, Mose Allison honed his style, playing a nightclubs and venues across the Southeast and West Coast. It was akin to serving a musical apprenticeship for Mose. Having “graduated” in 1956, Mose headed for jazz central, New York.

Not long after making the move to New York, Mose Allison first encountered Al Cohn. He took Mose under his wing, helping to get work. At first this was a playing live with The Al Cohn Quintet and the Stan Getz Quartet. This lead to Mose making his recording debut.

Mose Allison was part of The Al Cohn Quintet when they recorded their 1956 eponymous album. Then Mose was part of the Stan Getz Quartet when they recorded Live in 1956/57 and Stan Getz Quartet-The Soft Swing, which was released later in 1957. That same year, Mose made his recording debut as a solo artist. 

Prestige Records saw the potential in Mose Allison, and quickly signed him to what was already, a prestigious label. Twenty-four tracks, including from the Prestige years feature on I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971.

Back Country Suite was Mose Allison’s debut album, and was, which was released later in 1957. Each of the fourteen tracks had been inspired by the Mississippi Delta, where Mose grew up. This included the ten part suite Back Country Suite. One of these tracks was Blues, one of two vocal tracks. It was later covered The Who as Young Man Blues, on their Live At Leeds album. Just like Mose’s debut album it would also be hailed a classic.

When Back Country Suite was released, it was to critical acclaim, with critics hailing the album a poignant and evocative album from Mose Allison. His career had got off to the best possible start.

Later in 1957, Mose Allison returned with his sophomore album Local Colour. It featured the Mose Allison Trio, as they recorded Percy Mayfield’s Trouble In Mind and the Mose Allison composition Parchman Farm for the first time. Later, it would be covered by John Mayall and the Bluesbreaker, on their fourth album Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. When it was released in 1966, it would be hailed a British blues classic. One of the artists who had inspired both John Mayall and Eric Clapton was none other than Mose Allison. He was about to embark upon the busiest year of his nascent recording career during, 1958.

During 1958, Mose Allison released a trio of albums, including  Young Man Mose and the critically acclaimed Ramblin’ With Mose. However, Creek Bank was Mose Allison’s fourth album. It found Mose covering Willie Dixon’s oft-covered The Seventh Son. He brought something new to this familiar track. Another track from Creek Bank was another Mose Allison composition, If You Live. These two songs were among the highlights of Creek Bank, which found Mose at his most laconic as he delivered lyrics tinged with irony. Critics were won over by Creek Bank, and Mose’s career continued apace.

In 1959, Mose Allison released another two albums Autumn Song featured a cover of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s Eyesight To The Blind. Again, Mose gave the song a makeover, turning it into a slinky slice of vocal jazz.  Alas, Autumn Song was Mose’s swan-song for Prestige. Next stop was Columbia.

For his Columbia debut, Mose Allison released Transfiguration Of Hiram Brown later in 1959. This “serio-comic fantasy” was the last album Mose released during the fifties.

As the fifties gave way to the sixties, The Mose Allison Trio released their debut album, I Love The Life I Live. It was produced by Ted Macero, and featured a mixture songs penned Mose and cover versions. One of the cover versions was the Willie Dixon penned title-track , I Love The Life I Live.  It’s without doubt, one of the highlights of what’s a strong and cohesive album. Despite this, when Columbia decided to release a single, they chose a track that wasn’t on the album, Baby, Please Don’t Go. This familiar blues is reinvented by the Trio, taking on new life and meaning as Mose combines jazz, soul, and a hint of blues. Sadly, when the single was released in 1960, it failed to make an impression on the charts. So Mose returned to his solo career.

For his next solo album, Takes To The Hills in 1961, Mose Allison moved from the main Columbia label to their Epic imprint. Twelve songs, including ten cover versions and two new songs featured on the album. This included the Mose Allison composition Back On The Corner and Willie Love’s V-8 Ford Blues. It went on to become a favourite among Mose’s fans. So much so, that when Takes To The Hills was later reissued, the album was renamed V-8 Ford Blues. That was still to come.

Before that, 1962 proved to be an important year for Mose Allison. He signed to Atlantic Records and began work with producer Nesuhi Ertegun. Over the next few years, Mose would release some of the best music of his career. 

In 1962, Mose  released the album Swingin’ Machine, which featured If You’re Goin’ To The City. This was one of six Mose Allison composition, and one of the best. Later that year, Mose released one of his most important albums.

When I Don’t Worry About A Thing was released later in 1962, it marked Mose Allison’s transition from a pianist who occasionally sung, to a vocalist who just happened to play the piano.  Mose showcases his considerable skills on Your Mind Is On Vacation and If You’re Goin’ To The City. They’re two of six tracks penned by Mose on I Don’t Worry About A Thing, which was a transitionary and landmark album.

Two years later, in 1964, Mose Allison released one of the most important albums of his career, The Word From Mose. Just like previous albums, it was a mixture of cover versions and new songs, including I’m Not Talking and Foolkiller.  The Word From Mose was hailed by critics as one of his best, and most important albums. It feature Mose at his most laconic as he combined irony with wit, on an album that’s now regarded as a jazz classic.

By 1966, Mose Allison was now regarded first and foremost as a vocalist. Some critics seemed to overlook that Mose was a talented pianist and songwriter. Mose seemed to mature as a songwriter each year. He had had plenty of practise. His 1966 album Wild Man On The Loose was the sixteenth of his career. 

For Wild Man On The Loose, Mose wrote eight of the nine tracks. Among them, were the title-track, Wild Man On The Loose and You Can Count On Me To Do My Part. Both songs showcase Mose’s skills as a singer, songwriter and pianist and are among without doubt the highlights of the album. 

Another two years before Mose Allison released his next studio album. No longer were jazz albums selling in vast amounts. That hadn’t been the case for the last few years. Playing live was where artists were making money. So between 1966 when Mose released Mose Alive! and 1968, Mose concentrated on playing live. He returned with a new album in 1968. 

I’ve Been Doin’ Some Thinkin’ was released in 1968. This was the first Atlantic Records’ album that Mose had produced himself. He also wrote eleven of the twelve songs, including Everybody Cryin’ Mercy, Jus Like Livin’ and Your Molecular Structure. When I’ve Been Doin’ Some Thinkin’ was released, critics remarked on the quality of the songs. Mose had come of age as a songwriter, on what was  one of his strongest and most cohesive albums of recent years. That this just happened to be first album Mose produced, wasn’t a coincidence. He seemed be blossoming creatively. It was just a shame that his music wasn’t finding  wider audience.

By 1970, Mose Allison had influenced a generation of musicians. Everyone from Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, The Who and the Rolling Stones were citing Mose Allison as an influence. Despite this, album sales were disappointing. This included 1970s Hello There, Universe. 

For the Hello There, Universe sessions, Joel Horn came onboard to produce the album. The other change was Mose Allison was accompanied by a much bigger band. A horn section augmented the rhythm section as the ten tracks were recorded. Nine of the tracks were penned by Mose, including I’m Smashed and Hello There, Universe. They’re two of Mose’s finest hours on an ambitious and cerebral album. It received mixed reviews, and failed to find the audience it deserved. This was becoming a problem for many jazz musicians.

That was why so many jazz musicians changed direction, and jumped on the fusion bandwagon. Mose Allison who was a vocalist first, and pianist second, decided to plug in, and record an electric album, Western Man. This was a brave move, and one that could’ve backfired.

Western Man was produced by Joel Dorn, featured a slimmed down band. Just a trio of drummer Billy Cobham, Chuck Rainey on electric bass and Mose on piano, electric piano and vocals  recorded eleven songs. This included nine songs penned by Mose. Among the highlights were If You Only Knew and the title-track Western Man. Once the album was complete, Western Man which was released in 1971. It showcased a new side of Mose Allison, as he reinvented himself to ensure that he stayed relevant. This worked and Mose Allison’s career continued for another forty-five years.

Although Mose Allison had retired from touring, he hadn’t retired from music. He was still active musically, right up until his death on the 15th September 2016. The eighty-nine year old poised away at his home in California. Music had lost another of its most talented sons.

Sadly, this week alone, three hugely talented musicians have passed away. Eighty-two year old Leonard Cohen passed away on the 10th November, with Leon Russell passing away three days later on the 13th November. Now Mose Allison is the latest in a long line of talented musicians who music has lost during 2016. 

Although Mose Allison had retired from touring, he hadn’t retired from music. He was still active musically, right up until his death on the 15th September 2016. The eighty-nine year old poised away at his home in California. Music had lost another of its most talented sons.

Sadly, this week alone, three hugely talented musicians have passed away. Eighty-two year old Leonard Cohen passed away on the 10th November, with Leon Russell passing away three days later on the 13th November. Now Mose Allison is the latest in a long line of talented musicians who music has lost during 2016. 

Mose Allison enjoyed a long and fruitful career, releasing around fifty studio and live albums between 1957 and 2010. To document and celebrate such a lengthy career would take a box set to do it justice. However, BGP, an imprint of Ace Records recently released a compilation of covering the early years of Mose Allison’s career,  I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971. This lovingly curated compilation is the perfect introduction into a period where Mose Allison released some of the best music of his long and illustrious career.

I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971 features material that Mose Allison released for Prestige, Atlantic Records and Columbia. This was where Mose Allison released some of his finest music of his career. During that period, Mose Allison made the transition from piano player who occasionally sings, to a vocalist who just happened to play the piano. This transition occurred in 1966, when Wild Man On The Loose was released. For Mose Allison, the transition that began a few years earlier was complete, and he became know first and foremost as a singer. His unique mix of blues and modern jazz found favour far and wide. 

Mose Allison’s music found favour with everyone from Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, The Who, The Pixies, the Rolling Stones and the late Leon Russell. Each and every of these musicians and bands were influenced by a Mose Allison. Even today, a new generation of musicians are citing Mose Allison as an influence. That’s not surprising.

During his lifetime, Mose Allison was described as: “one of the finest songwriters in twentieth century blues.” He wrote songs that were “quirky,” and showcased Mose Allison’s “subtle ironic humour.” This will be much missed by his fellow musicians, friends and fans. However, Mose Allison leaves behind a rich musical legacy.

Part of Mose Allison’s rich musical legacy includes the twenty-four tracks on I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971. It features Mose Allison during what was one of the most fruitful, and creative periods of his long and successful career. This is documented on I’m Not Talkin’-The Song Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1971, which is a fitting celebration of the life and music of late, great Mose Allison who will much missed.

I’M NOT TALKIN’-THE SONG STYLINGS OF MOSE  ALLISON 1957-1971.

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