NEARLY EVERYTHING Mose Allison does is low-key, whether it's singing or playing the piano or adding another album to his discography. So unless you've paid close attention to what this native Mississippian with the laconic drawl has been up to in recent years, you may have missed some small gems. Best of all is his latest album, "Ever Since the World Ended."

Song for song, this is Allison's strongest effort since his heyday on Atlantic. While his recent albums have their share of agreeable, even memorable tunes, this one is chock-full of them. The title track, for instance, is a sauntering blues in which Allison takes a wry look at doomsday's aftermath, only to conclude that it's just as well the world ended, for "we couldn't have taken much more." But even for Allison, hope springs eternal: On "Top Forty," he sings "When I make my Top Forty big beat rock 'n' roll record everything is gonna be just fine/No more philosophic melancholia, 800 pounds of electric genitalia." Perish the thought.

In addition to several other fine songs, the special guests Allison has recruited for this album are another plus. Guitarist Kenny Burrell and saxophonists Arthur Blythe and Benny Wallace add sinew and soul to Allison's understated arrangements.


"Ever Since the World Ended" (Blue Note BLJ 48015). Appearing at Blues Alley through Sunday.