Introducing "You Are My Sunshine" last night at Charlie's, pianist Mose Allison told the audience, "this was written by former Louisana governor Jimmy Davis, but it's not his version." Of course not.
Nothing Mose Allison performs, be it a lush ballard by Nat King Cole or an electric blues by Willie Dixon, sounds quite like the original. Allison's style is such a distinctive blend of bop and blues that everything he touches sounds as if it were written with him in mind.
A vivid example of this was the way he transformed Hank Williams' country classic "Hey, Good Lookin" into a feisty Cu-bop exchange between piano and congas. He also formed clusters of short, repetitive figures and sharp, percussive accents to underline the lyrics of other songs including one by Percy Mayfield, a writer long associated with Ray Charles and a lasting influence on Allison.
Apart from the two overly long instrumentals that opened his set, Allison's own compositions didn't suffer by comparison. His droll wit and accelerated vocals made many of the up-tempo pieces sparkle.On his popular "Everybody Cryin' Mercy," his double-edged delivery recalled several other blues musicians from his home state, Mississipi.
Allison will appear with bassist Rick Kilburn and drummer Tom Oldakowsky through Sunday at Charlie's.