Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mose Got Attitude


It's not the typical jazz or blues strategy to build a career based on lyrical sarcasm and pessimism paired with a steadfast refusal to employ a backbeat. But Mose Allison has. Talk about going your own way. Mose has been at it since the 50s, and enjoyed some success in the 60s when rockers like Pete Townsend sang his praises. In fact it makes sense that Mose might hold more appeal for rockers than jazzers, even though Mose is a piano virtuoso. Of all the genres, punk embraced qualities such as sarcasm. Combine that with Allison's refusal to coddle the listener musically, and I think we can make the case for Mose as the first Jazz Punk.

This is a 1997 remake of one of his earlier compositions. It features a monster sax solo from Mark Shim, a classically-informed piano solo by Mose, and some intuitive drumming from the late jazz legend Paul Motian, who played on Bill Evans' classic trio performances of the late 50s, early 60s. The peak moment comes at 2:50 when, right after the solos, Mose enters with this message for the concern-troll the song is aimed at: "Don't think I don't appreciate your sage advice." The way he hits that "don't" is the classic Mose Allison vocal inflection. Thanks, Mose, for bringin' the attitude all these years. Long may you bitch and moan.

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