Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mose Allison -- He's Funky

Mose Allison is funky, He really is. His comping and audible grunting, sense of laconic irony in both his voice and his piano phrasing, Mose is funky. I got to catch him live on two occasions. He was an uncredited genius with an insensitive audience both times I saw him. He's serious about his music and he became frustrated with the half-filled house of inattentive and self-absorbed patrons and his response was to play his piano solos in seconds. Jarring -- and he had a right to his attitude -- but I preferred the Mose I heard on his recordings.

And what great records he made! Back in the day when 45s were the media of choice, some of us had record players in our cars -- like my friend Bill -- 54 Buick, two door hardtop with a rake, and a great collection of jazz and blues 45s. The records stacked upside down and dropped down after they played. There was a cookie can from Woolworth's that just fit the 45s. I was DJ, suggesting the song list, or taking direction and prepping the record stacks:
Parchman Farm, Eyesight To The Blind, Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me, Don't Get Around Much Anymore, Seventh SonLost Mind "I lost my mind in a wild romance," Your Molecular Structure, That's All Right, Your Mind Is On Vacation "You're over-laughin' when things ain't funny..." Foolkiller's comin'!

Some said a white man playing piano couldn't be playing blues. Well Mose is from Mississippi, where you from? Again, he's got a right. Music transcends race and ultimately music transcends description. Yes, we can describe Mose as a jazz pianist, a "casual" vocal stylist, but don't forget expressive, hip, capable, subtle, deep -- and funky!
"It is only because the world looks on his talent with such a frightening indifference that the artist is compelled to make his talent important."  -- James Baldwin