JJ 11/63: Mose Allison – Swingin’ Machine

Sixty years ago Steve Voce regretted that Allison, lacking conviction, offered all the excitement of a Victorian Sunday afternoon. First published in Jazz Journal November 1963


It has often been remarked that Allison represents a link between the untutored blues singers of the Deep South and the sophisticated expression of the musically more literate moderns. I have always con­sidered him as one who has not joined but fallen with a tragi-comic plop between the two. Considered alongside a pianist like Peterson, he invests his work with all the excitement of a Victorian Sunday afternoon. He has certainly grasped the basics of more rural blues-singing but his delivery has about as much conviction as one could expect from the George Mitchell Singers in “Strange Fruit”.

Allison is unfortunate in these respects, for he has proved himself a talented ac­companist and has here provided a tasty little group which just misses the boat.

Some of the group voicings are quite exquisite, some of the solos (particularly from the front line) are very good, but the final total is lightweight. The missing quality is conviction. This is Mingus without Mingus, Giuffre without Giuffre.

Knepper comes off best in his beauti­fully formed and logically expressed solos. As far as I know his solo space on this record is more extensive than on any other set issued over here, and for this reason the LP must be welcomed.

Swingin’ Machine; Do it; Stop This World; Promenade (16 min) – If You’re Goin’ To The City; Saritha; I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues; So Rare ( 18 min)
Allison (p/vcl); Jimmy Knepper (tbn); Jimmy Reider (ten); Addison Farmer (bs); Frank Dunlop (d). New York, 1963.
(London HA-K 8083 12inLP 32s. 2d.)