Loitering at the intersection of New York jazz, southern blues, and cowboy philosophy, Mose Allison remains something of a cult figure. But then what would you expect from a pianist who made some of his first recordings with Stan Getz, scored one of his biggest hits singing a tune by Willie Dixon, and writes a song like the postapocalyptic "Ever Since the World Ended (I Don't Go Out as Much)"? Allison's bluesy baritone and unreconstructed Mississippi drawl are not society's preferred vehicle for pungent satire and mordant wit; but, as with the work of Roy Blount Jr. and Will Rogers, the unexpected medium makes the message that much more memorable. On his last album his songs described him as a "stranger in my own hometown," a "sentimental fool," and a "white boy [who] steals the blues." All would appear to be true, but none of them tells the tale; and anyway, ol' Mose himself denies any autobiographical leanings. (His producer and admirer Ben Sidran describes him as "the William Faulkner of jazz.") Scattered throughout Allison's clever songs are his equally unique piano solos, rich in bebop vocabulary and rhythmically intense. He's one of the oddest birds in jazz, God bless him. Tuesday through next Sunday, October 27, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marc PoKempner.