Mose Allison, An Icon In Jazz And Delta Blues, Passes at 89
November 15, 2016 at 2:30 PM (PT)
MOSE ALLISON, a pianist, singer and songwriter who connected the dots between modern jazz and DELTA blues, who was discovered by both BRITISH INVASION rockers and folk singers alike, died TODAY at his home in HILTON HEAD, SC, at the age of 89.
ALLISON began his professional career as a jazz piano player, leading his own trio then working with the likes of saxophonists STAN GETZ and GERRY MULLIGAN.
Beginning in the early ’60s, he fronted his own groups, with a style of conversational blues that was influenced by his upbringing in rural MISSISSIPPI, evincing his folk truths in a wise, but down-to-earth style
BRITISH rockers like JOHN MAYALL recorded his songs, including "Parchman Farm," as did R&B singer GEORGIE FAME. His songs were also covered by THE YARDBIRDS, THE KINKS and THE CLASH. THE WHO based "My Generation":on his "Young Man Blues," a song they covered on their 1970 album, "Live At LEEDS." AMERICAN artists such as PAUL BUTTERFIELD, JOHNNY WINTER, BOBBIE GENTRY and DIANA KRALL sang his songs, while THE PIXIES named their album, "ALLISON" as an homage.
In an interview with NPR, ALLISON placed his songs in three categories: slapstick, social comment and personal crisis.
BONNIE RAITT covered his "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy," while ELVIS COSTELLO found a kindred spirit in his sardonic "Your Mind Is On Vacation (And Your Mouth Is Working Overtime).”
ALLISON is survived by his daughter, singer/songwriter AMY ALLISON, and his wife of 65 years, AUDRE, two other daughters, JANINE and ALISSA ALLISON; a son, JOHN; and two grandchildren. .
MOSE JOHN ALLISON JR. was born on NOVEMBER 11th, 1927, on a family cotton farm near TIPPO, MI. His mother taught elementary school and his father was a self-taught stride piano player who, owned a general store. ALLISON heard blues singers like MEMPHIS MINNIE and TAMPA RED on the jukebox at a gas station across the street.
His first song, “The 14-Day PALMOLIVE Plan" was a satire of radio commercials in the style of LOUIS JORDAN's jump blues, but his early hero was NAT KING COLE, who started out as a jazz pianist.
ALLISON's debut album, “Back Country Suite,” was released by PRESTIGE in 1957, followed by “Local Color,” which introduced “Parchman Farm," though neither was much of a commercial success.
He was signed by COLUMBIA RECORDS, which in 1960 released “The Transfiguration of HIRAM BROWN,” a loosely autobiographical album about a young man who has moved from the country to the city. A 1963 PRESTIGE compilation of his vocal sides, simply titled “MOSE ALLISON Sings," was his first sales success.
ALLISON then moved to ATLANTIC RECORDS, releasing "I Don't Worry About A Thing," which was released in 1962 and introduced some of his best-known tunes. He settled down on LONG ISLAND, where he lived for more than 40 years with his family before moving to HILTON HEAD ISLAND.
ALLISON expanded his following as an opening act for VAN MORRISON, who in 1996 recorded “Tell Me Something: The Songs of MOSE ALLISON,” with BEN SIDRAN and GEORGIE FAME, and featured a cameo by MOSE.
His final studio album, “The Way Of The World,” was released on the L.A. indie ANTI- label in 2010, produced by JOE HENRY.
In 2013, he was recognized as a NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS JAZZ MASTER, the highest honor for jazz musicians.
A live album recorded in 2006, “MOSE ALLISON AMERICAN Legend, Live in CALIFORNIA,” was released last year.