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Mose Allison

Mose Allison is an NEA Jazz Master

Mose Allison was born in the Mississippi Delta on his grandfathers farm near the village of Tippo. At five he discovered he could play the piano by ear and began picking out blues and boogie tunes he heard on the local jukebox. In high school he listened to the music of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and his prime inspiration, Nat Cole of the King Cole Trio. He played trumpet in the marching and dance bands and started writing his own songs.

After a year at the University of Mississippi, he went to the Army in l946, playing in the Army Band in Colorado Springs and performing with accomplished musicians from around the country in small groups at NCO and Officers clubs. Returning to Ole Miss he joined the dance band as arranger, piano and trumpet player, but shortly left to form his own trio, playing piano and singing in a style heavily influenced by Nat Cole, Louis Jordan and Erroll Garner. After a year on the road, Mose married, returned to college at Louisiana State University and graduated in 1952 with a BA in English and Philosophy.

He worked in nightclubs throughout the Southeast and West, blending the raw blues of his childhood with modern pianistic influences of John Lewis, Thelonius Monk and Al Haig. His vocal style was influenced by blues singers Percy Mayfield and Charles Brown. Arriving in New York in 1956, Mose received encouragement, work and a record date from Al Cohn. In 1957 he secured his own first recording contract with Prestige Records, recording Back Country Suite, a collection of pieces evoking the Mississippi Delta, released to unanimous critical acclaim. Mose went on to play and record with jazz greats Stan Getz, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan as well as with his own Mose Allison Trio.

Mose continued working with his own trio, writing and singing his own songs. His songs are a fusion of rustic blues and jazz, embellished with profound and often humorous lyrics. As a pianist, while admiring jazz masters Bud Powell and Lenny Tristano, he also learned from composers such as Bartok, Ives, Hindemith and Ruggles. The fusing of these diverse elements into a cohesive performance continues today. A biography, One Mans Blues: The Life and Music of Mose Allison, written by Patti Jones, was published in 1995 by Quartet Books Ltd. Of London.

Mose continues to write and perform all over the world. His songs have been covered by Van Morrison, John Mayall, The Who, The Clash, Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. Van Morrison recorded a tribute album, Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison, on Verve Records, and rockers like Pete Townshend, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Davies and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones have frequently cited Mose Allison as a major influence.

His most recent Grammy nomination was for one of his two newest recordings, Mose Chronicles, Live in London, Vol. I on Blue Note Records. Mose Chronicles, Vol II was just released last year. Also, British born Director Paul Barnays has produced a one hour documentary on Mose, entitled Mose Allison; Ever Since I Stole the Blues, for the BBC4 in the UK. Among recent releases are a dozen reissues on CD including Allison Wonderland and a double CD retrospective on Rhino, and High Jinks, a three CD package on Legacy. Blue Note has also re-released a collection of past recordings, Mose Allison, Jazz Profiles. His music has often been used in movies, and he can be seen performing in the recently released movie, The Score, starring Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando.

Mose resides on Long Island with his wife Audre where they raised four children: Alissa, an attorney, John, a telecommunication specialist, Janine, a psychiatrist, and Amy Allison, also a successful and respected singer songwriter in New York with her own group.

As one writer recently said: Mose is now at the peak of his performing career. Although maybe this last statement is not quite true as he seems to continue to improve on perfection.

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Album Review

Mose Allison: American Legend Live in California

Read "American Legend Live in California" reviewed by Alberto Bazzurro


Che dire di questo live del 2006, quando il suo protagonista viaggiava verso gli ottanta (li avrebbe compiuti di lì a un anno, l'11 novembre 2007)? Poco e male, viene spontaneo affermare. Mose Allison ha fior di estimatori, per carità, che evidentemente sono riusciti a trovare nel suo canto sdolcinato e privo di qualunque tipo di pathos e del benché minimo afflato creativo e nel suo pianismo appena più decoroso (definiamolo funzionale) qualcosa che il vostro recensore non ha purtroppo ...

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Album Review

Mose Allison: Mose Allison: American Legend in California

Read "Mose Allison: American Legend in California" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey


Tippo, Mississippi is about as far from Charleston as it is Tutwiler, the two county seats of Tallahatchie County, located on the northeastern edge of the alluvial Delta plain, before the land turns to rolling hills. There lives in Tippo, an Allison family, who thirty years ago were patients of mine when I was practicing pharmacy while attending graduate school. That is Allison...as in, Mose Allison. I Mose Allison's mother and brother frequently during the 10 years I kicked around ...

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Interview

Mose Allison: Back in the (Studio) Saddle

Read "Mose Allison: Back in the (Studio) Saddle" reviewed by R.J. DeLuke


Mose Allison, the singer/songwriter blues/jazz man from the Mississippi Delta, has reached the age of 82. He's packed into that lifetime some 60 years in the music business and on the road. He's still playing more than 100 club and concert dates a year, from New York to California, across the pond in England and elsewhere.He's recorded steadily during those years, his albums all well received in the jazz community by critics and fans alike. But over the ...

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Profile

A Modest Proposal: Joe Henry's Letter-Writing Campaign Results in Mose Allison's First Record in 12 years

Read "A Modest Proposal: Joe Henry's Letter-Writing Campaign Results in Mose Allison's First Record in 12 years" reviewed by Jeff Vrabel


Joe Henry's strategy for coaxing Mose Allison back to the studio for the first time in twelve years was simple enough: All he had to do was quietly and thoughtfully stalk the jazz icon for a year.

“He kept at it, and kept calling me and emailing and so forth," the 82-year-old Allison said of the courting process by Henry, who received two Grammy nominations this month for his production on Allen Toussaint's The Bright Mississippi and Ramblin' Jack Elliott's ...

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Live Review

Mose Allison at Nighttown

Read "Mose Allison at Nighttown" reviewed by Matt Marshall


Nighttown Cleveland Heights, Ohio August 29, 2009

Mose Allison sings for survivors. He always has. He sings easy, buoyant blues in a lackadaisical style. His voice, while rubbed at the edges from more than 50 years on the road, is still crisp with vaudevillian nonchalance. He accompanies himself with confident, insistent piano vamps drawn as much from Wagner as Waller, and his solos are constantly inventive and invigorating while never straying from the familiar. Moreover, ...

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Album Review

Mose Allison: Mose Allison Sings

Read "Mose Allison Sings" reviewed by Riel Lazarus


Working through Prestige Records' reissue of Mose Allison Sings, the challenge arises of describing the pianist/vocalist's unique sound. The salty-sweet taste of butter and jam on toast is at once an unspectacular metaphor and right on the mark. Allison's music is a delicious blend of tart and tang, as enjoyable in the morning as it is a late-night snack, simple yet significant, unassuming and infectious. His style is indelibly his own, residing somewhere between the Delta blues ...

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Album Review

Mose Allison: Mose Allison Sings

Read "Mose Allison Sings" reviewed by Jim Santella


There's nobody else quite like Mose Allison. Try to think of a musician who even comes close. He's so unique that we all know from the very start who we're listening to. And nobody else can fill that niche. But Allison didn't start out as a singer. He was Stan Getz's pianist in 1956-57, and he began recording for Prestige as a pianist who also played trumpet in 1957. His piano trio did bebop instrumentals, and Allison added an occasional ...

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"When I discovered Mose Allison I felt I had discovered the missing link between jazz and blues" —Ray Davies "The man's voice was heaven. So cool, so decisively hip... Mose was my man. I felt him to be the epitome of restrained screaming power." —Pete Townshend "For over thirty years, this premier songwriter, singer and pianist has stared down the oncoming doom, peppering his idiosyncratic blend of jazz and blues with mordant wit and unflinching honesty." —Village Voice

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Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Soho Scene '57: Jazz...

Rhythm & Blues Records
2023

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Live 1978

Liberation Hall
2022

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American Legend Live...

City Hall Records
2015

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Transfiguration Of...

Avid Entertainment
2015

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The Collection

Blue Note
2010

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Modest Proposal

From: The Way Of The World
By Mose Allison

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