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Swingin' Machine

Mose Allison

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Album Review

Jazz fans may find this Mose Allison session unique among scads of releases from this laid-back, witty and original singer and pianist. Almost never found recording outside of the piano trio context, this album perhaps reveals the reason why: on a whole, adding horns to Allison's band just doesn't work that well. The trombonist Jimmy Knepper is of particular interest, in that he most often recorded under the intense leadership of Charles Mingus, a far cry from the loose and relaxed sound of Allison. His fellow hornman here is tenor saxophonist Jimmy Reider; not a very well-known jazzman but certainly competent in a swing style. If the leader had stuck to all vocal numbers this might have been a top drawer album. All the vocal tracks here are fine, with the song "Stop This World" rating among the best things this artist has recorded in a long career. It's the instrumental tracks that drag, however, since like any respectable pianist bandleader, Allison chooses to put the two horns out front for theme-solo-theme arrangements that would only be worth repeated listening if every other jazz performance ever recorded happened to vanish off the face of the earth. Allison's piano playing picked up some steam as the '60s wore on, so it is a shame he didn't revisit this concept at a later date. In all, an enjoyable album but a bit disappointing.

Biography

Born: 11 November 1927 in Tippo, MS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Not unlike his namesake, Luther Allison, pianist Mose Allison has suffered from a "categorization problem," given his equally brilliant career. Although his boogie-woogie and bebop-laden piano style is innovative and fresh sounding when it comes to blues and jazz, it is as a songwriter that Allison really shines. Allison's songs have been recorded by the Who ("Young Man Blues"), Leon Russell ("I'm Smashed"), and Bonnie Raitt ("Everybody's Cryin' Mercy"). Other admirers include Tom Waits, John Mayall,...
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Swingin' Machine, Mose Allison
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