Few white performers have captured the soul, heart and emotion of the blues better than Jack Teagarden and Mose Allison. With Volume One in the title as well as the expectations created by the word Chronicles, this release should be the first of other releases by Blue Note documenting the contributions Mose Allison has made to jazz and blues over the more than 40 years of his career.
This album captures a live performance at the Pizza Express in London. Jazz has come to playing pizza parlors. The play list is made up of songs Allison likes to sing, those he composed and those written by others. "You Call It Jogging" and "What's Your Movie" have appeared on other Allison recordings for Blue Note and "Middle Class White Boy" was the title of one of his most popular albums. All of these compositions tell stories real people can relate to. There's no pie in the sky, wide-eyed romanticism in Allison's material. Some songs have has a hopeful outlook (some would call it wishful thinking) like "Ever Since the World Ended" when there was no more difference between black and white. He acknowledges the influence of Nat King Cole with a song Cole used to sing with his trio, "Meet Me at No Special Place".
Even after all these years, Allison still has that imitable style, a mixture of blues and country delivered in a soft understated manner, and always swinging. Still another feature of an Allison performance is that one must be ready and willing to be surprised. For example, "You Are My Sunshine" is done in an unusually slow tempo with a somber, regretful spirit replete with arpeggios with Allison thunderously pounding the keys. The members of the trio are in total sync with Allison's way of doing things. Roy Babbington ‘s bass and especially Mark Taylor's drums, chip in with accents just at the right places italicizing the impressions Allison is creating.
A Mose Allison album requires close listening to catch the meaning of the message and to appreciate the good humor of Allison's playing and singing. This is not background music and is strongly recommended.
Personnel: Mose Allison - Piano/Vocal; Roy Babbington - Bass; Mark Taylor - Drums