Mose Allison

Jazz & Blues Icon-Mose Allison

Mose Allison was born November 11, 1927 on his grandfather's farm near the village of Tippo, just inside the eastern rim of the Mississippi Delta, thirty miles southeast of Clarksdale. His father was a self-taught "stride" piano player (before he settled into the family farming business), and Mose's mother taught at the local grade school.

Mose was sent to piano lessons at age five, but very soon discovered he could play "by ear". He resisted the discipline of learning to read music and began "picking out" the blues and boogie tunes he heard on the local jukeboxes. In high school, he listened to the recording of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and his prime inspiration at the time-Nat Cole of the King Cole Trio days. In school, Mose played trumpet in the marching and dance bands and started "making up" his own songs which he was often called upon to play and sing at parties.

After a year at the University of Mississippi in Chemical Engineering, Mose joined the military in 1946, and spent most of his time in an Army Band in Colorado Springs. There he performed with accomplished musicians from around the country in small bands at NCO and Officer's clubs. Mose returned to "Ole Miss" as an Economics major, and joined the dance band as arranger, piano and trumpet layer. Shortly there after, he left to form his own trio, playing piano and singing in a style heavily dependent upon Nat Cole, Louis Jordan and Erroll Garner. After a year on the road, Mose married, returned to college at Louisiana State University and graduated with a BA in English and Philosophy in 1952.

After graduating, Mose worked in nightclubs throughout the Southeast and West, blending the raw blues of his childhood with the modern pianistic influences of John Lewis, Thelonius Monk and Al Haig, while his vocal style was affected by blues singers Percy Mayfield and Charles Brown.

Arriving in New York in 1956, Mose received encouragement, work, and his first record date from saxophonist, Al Cohn. In 1957, he secured his first recording contract with Prestige Records. His first album, Back Country Suite, is a collection of short pieces evoking the Mississippi Delta, and was released to unanimous critical acclaim. Mose went on to play and record with jazz greats Stan Getz, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan.

In the early sixties, Mose again began working with his own trio and found that writing and singing his own songs was essential as a means of expression, and as a way to expand his repertoire. His songs are a fusion of rustic blues and jazz, embellished with profound and often humorous lyrics. While admiring jazz masters Bud Powell and Lenny Tristano, Mose also learned from composers such as Bartok, Ives, Hindemith and Ruggles. The process of fusing these diverse elements into a cohesive performance continues today.

Mose has written more than 150 songs and performs all over the world, averaging over 150 performances a year. His songs have been covered by Van Morrison, John Mayall, the Who, Johnny Winter, The Clash, Eric Clapton (with the Yardbirds), Elvis Costello, and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few. Rockers like Pete Townshend, Ray Davies and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones have frequently cited Mose Allison as a major influence.

Van Morrison recorded and released (Oct 96) a tribute album devoted entirely to Mose Allison compositions entitled, Tell Me Something, The Songs of Mose Allison, recorded in London on Verve Records. The record featured Georgie Fame on vocals and B3 along with The album quickly shot to the top of the jazz charts worldwide.

In 1994 Mose released The Earth Wants You on Blue Note Records, which featured John Scofield on guitar, Paul Motian on drums, Ratzo B. Harris on bass, Joe Lovano on alto saxophone, Bob Malach on tenor sax, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Ray Mantilla on congas and Hugh McCracken on harmonica. The recording contains 13 all original tunes that display Mose's wry sense of humor and cynical point of view.

Mose Allison's most recent recording is "Gim Cracks and Geegaws" which was released on Blue Note Records in February 1998. Enjoying steady airplay and getting rave reviews, Mose Allison fans can rest assured that this living legend is still creating outrageously brilliant music and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

# # #

For Mose Allison booking information


return to top

return to The Blues Agency

Mose Allison

Itinerary as of January 25, 1999

Fri Jan 29 Mystic Theatre Petaluma CA
Sat Jan 30 Biscuits & Blues San Francisco CA
Mon Feb 1 Kuumba Jazz Center Santa Cruz CA
Tues Feb 2 Jazz Store Carmel CA
Wed Feb 3 Jazz Store Carmel CA
Thurs Feb 4-Sun Feb 7 Jazz Bakery Santa Monica CA
Sat Feb 13 Town Crier Pawling NY
Fri-Sat Feb 19-20 Bird of Paradise Ann Arbor MI
July 7-24 Pizza Express London (SOHO) ENGLAND

return to top

return to The Blues Agency