Mose Allison | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mose Allison 

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Jazz's answer to the Old Philosopher is back in town and--as evidenced by My Backyard, his Blue Note album of earlier this year--Mose Allison's dry wit and slightly, delightfully jaundiced eye continue to find new and worthy targets. Mose's voice drips the drawl of his native Mississippi Delta. But he puts it to the service of plenty besides the traditional down-and-out blues: clever put-downs ("Your Mind Is on Vacation but Your Mouth Is Working Overtime"), wry observations ("Tai Chi Life," "You Call It Joggin' but I Call It Runnin' Around"), and, these days, unexpectedly tender progress reports from late middle age, such as a recent tune called "Was." What's often lost amid Mose's vocals and lyrics, though, is his sophisticated, bebop-layered brand of barrelhouse piano. With its choppy rhythms and headlong drive, this unadorned keyboard style does a lot more than just fill the space between words: Allison's piano solos communicate and comment upon the proceedings almost as directly as do his words. Hearing a set by Mose Allison could be the equivalent of inviting Will Rogers, Horace Silver, Piano Red, and maybe Soren Kierkegaard out for drinks. Tonight and Saturday, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marc PoKempner.


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