Editors' pick

Mose Allison Trio

Jazz
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Editorial Review

Mike Joyce reviewed and August 2007 Mose Allison performance for The Washington Post:

For every Mose Allison song recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall and the like, there must be a dozen others that deserve to be heard more often. And since no one interprets an Allison lyric like the composer himself, catching a performance during his semiannual visits to Blues Alley has become a ritual for many jazz and blues fans.

The 79-year-old Mississippi native didn't disappoint Thursday. While the first set on opening night is not exactly prime time for Allison, his droll, acutely observed take on human foibles and political follies made for great fun. Indeed, some of the tunes he casually unearthed, especially "Ever Since the World Ended" and "Monsters of the Id," seem more relevant and barbed now than when they first surfaced. Colorfully punctuating the set were tunes composed by other Southern composers, from former Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis ("You Are My Sunshine") to blues great Willie Dixon ("I Love the Life I Live").

Allison's piano arrangements were typically idiosyncratic, laced with rhythmic fits and starts and zigzagging choruses, but then, so were his vocals. Like a bop trumpeter, he cut some notes short, held on to others till his lungs gave out and occasionally capped a phrase with an wide interval leap. The unenviable task of anticipating his moves fell to bassist Tommy Cecil and drummer Tony Martucci, who adroitly accented and underpinned each performance, including an Allison classic reserved for the encores: "Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing."