JJ 04/73: Mose Allison – Mose In Your Ear

Fifty years ago Barry McRae thought this latter-day Hoagy Carmichael an original who didn't so much sing out of tune as beyond tonal values. First published in Jazz Journal April 1973


I find it very difficult to apply honest critical faculties to the work of Mose Allison. He does not sing out of tune as much as beyond tonal values. His piano is a mixture of uneasy folkiness and funky blues and his phrase shapes are as mannered as his singing.

Neverthe­less, I am always knocked out by this present-day Hoagy Carmichael, by his quaint compositions and the way in which he reworks other people’s mater­ial in a highly original manner.

This album is ideal for me because despite its limitations I enjoy his rolling piano and there is plenty to be heard. His solo on Fool’s Paradise is a model of its kind and Powerhouse is an instru­mental that lives up to its name. No­body could claim Allison to be a man with advanced harmonic ideas but he has this Monk-like ability to ‘hear’ a line in a completely novel way.

His best compositions here are Look Out, Count On Me and Don’t Forget and they closely reflect his throw-away singing method. Sunshine remains a dirge in the classic Sheila Jordan manner and although Good Lookin’ and Seventh Son are somewhat hackneyed there is a sense of personal involvement that lends credence to Allison the performer.

Look What You Made Me Do; Fool’s Paradise; I Don’t Worry About A Thing; Powerhouse (19½ min) – Hey Good Lookin’; I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues; You Can Count On Me To Do My Part; You Are My Sunshine; Don’t For­get To Smile; The Seventh Son (18½ min)
Mose Allison (pno/vcl); Clyde Flowers (bs); Eddie Charlton (dm). Palo Alto, California 1972.
(Atlantic K 40460 £2.09)