WHEN IT COMES to wry, relaxed, Southern-bred piano blues, Mose knows. Mose Allison, that is.
On "My Backyard," his latest release, the Mississippi native even pokes fun at the notion that the color of your skin somehow dictates your musical tastes and abilities, as only he would or could: "Well have you heard the latest/Are you in the know?/It's in the morning papers and on the radio/It's even going to make the evening news/white boy steals the blues."
The lyric is one of several acerbic commentaries on life that helps make "My Backyard" every bit as good as his stellar 1987 release, "Ever Since the World Ended." Although his melancholy rumination "Was" and the caustic "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" also stand out, not all the lyrics were composed by Allison. John D. Loudermilk contributes the ticklish barb "You Call It Joggin' (But I Call It Runnin' Around)," there's an obscure Tin Pan Alley gem called "Sleepy Lagoon," and the late R&B composer Percy Mayfield, a longtime Allison favorite, is represented by a philosophic reading of "Stranger in My Hometown."
Quite apart from the choice selection of songs, there's another good reason to give "My Backyard" a listen: a spirited ensemble of New Orleans musicians. Indeed, veteran tenor saxophonist Tony Dagradi, guitarist Steve Masakowski, bassist Bill Huntington and drummer John Vidacovich are responsible for the album's Crescent City soul and syncopation.
MOSE ALLISON -- "My Backyard" (Blue Note). Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.