Music icon Mose Allison dazzled Los Angeles audiences this last weekend with a series of riveting shows at the Largo at the Coronet. Warming up for the release of his brand new album The Way of the World out March 23rd on Anti Records, Allison demonstrated the gifts that have earned him the moniker the "William Faulkner of jazz" and inspired an assortment of rock luminaries to proclaim his influence and cover his songs. The performances left little doubt that the veteran has plenty left to say, an enthusiasm echoed by the city's two prominent newspapers.
The LA Times said of the recent shows: "Allison is like an antidote to winter doldrums. ... showcased the breezy cool and biting wit that have made him an inspiration to generations of artists, including Van Morrison, Elvis Costello and even the Clash, which covered Allison on the double-album "Sandinista!"...the pianist's arsenal of warmth and wit seemed endless, especially when taking on his own material. His "Monsters of the Id," riding a dark, snaking melody, was first recorded in 1969 but could have been written yesterday with comparisons of those in power to "prehistoric ghouls" and "resurrected Huns."
The LA Weekly was equally admiring, proclaiming: "Mose Allison has always been a misfit. Not a misfit in the sense of a James Dean or even a Chet Baker - but a true unclassifiable... that was Mose when he blew everyone away in the 1950s and 1960s with those Prestige and Atlantic albums, and that was Mose last night at the Largo at the Coronet stage -- the unhippest hipster you've ever seen and one of the most original, understated songwriters to ever tackle the mysteries of the blues... He's the anti-Springsteen: Mose's tramps were not born to run, but to wake up with a hangover and take to the piano to tell their woes with a wry smile.
A recent feature in All-About-Jazz details the collaboration between Allison and producer Joe Henry: "... while the playbook in such projects tends to dictate that producers working with long-dormant icon types defer to the scraped-to-the-bone-essence treatment, Henry has taken the other road, surrounding Allison's wry, sharp verbal edge and piano-based bop with a warm, comfortable-sounding and surprisingly full band... the record's most crackling moment, delivers a "Modest Proposal" on religion that springs from the same sharp, dark corners as "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy" or "Your Mind Is On Vacation": "Let's give God a vacation/He must be tired of it all," Allison sings, "Rigging the game/taking the blame/24 hours a day on call."
Upcoming Mose Allison performances:
February 4 -7, Jazz Showcase, Chicago, Ill.
February 26, Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe AZ.
March 2, Tribute to "The Who," Carnegie Hall, NYC
March 3, City Winery, Get Tickets New York, NY