Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mose 'Scoscious

video
Sunday Greetings and welcome to memorial tribute #2 of the weekend, this time featuring a recently departed American treasure and a rare anniversary special of a concert.
Not too many folks I feature on here can claim a 60-year career of completely unique output, but there are always exceptions. The "music industry" isn't always conducive to longevity, but every once in a while iconoclasts rise above the sound and fury and its self-signifying nothingness to unabashedly do their own thing for decades. Today's hero is one such cat.
It took a tremendous battle, so the story goes, for him to be able to convince the record company to allow him to sing. When they did, he rewarded them with a smash hit and a song that would end up a classic standard, covered by dozens of artists. The suits offered little resistance after that.
The song was Parchman Farm, about the famous Southern prison, and it launched Mose Allison into a career as one of the truly representative American songwriters. It came out in 1957 and became a sensation, eventually reaching Smithsonian status in the Great Songbook of Everything. I can see the car commercial that featured it so prominently many years ago in my mind's eye right now.
I have many favorite songs of his -- his version of The Seventh Son, a Blues standard for decades before he recorded it in the late 1950s, is held by the experts as one of the foundational instances of Funk -- but the one at the top of the page takes it for me. Your mind is on vacation, but your mouth is working overtime.... sound like anyone you know, Mr. President-Elect?
In addition to being one of the integral American songsmiths, Mose Allison is also somewhat notorious in archival trading circles for being one of the least visible artists in terms of concerts and whatnot. It isn't that he never played -- my friend, a record producer of some legend, was recently recounting a story on social media about the first time he ever saw the man play in London in 1964, and how there was no one like him on the scene when he hit. Cue daggers of jealous rage is 3...2...1...
He had a long career pretty much being himself and authoring his songs from his one-of-a-kind perspective, like a pillar of consistency unto himself. His approach -- never deviating far from the wry, self-perceiving narrative Ever Since I Stole the Blues style he was famous for -- inspired millions of other players and songwriters of all stripes, almost becoming a style unto itself. Artists from Randy Newman to John Prine owe him a tremendous debt.
He passed away at the elder age of 89, just four days after his birthday a couple of weeks ago, but his style and sound, infused with a wisdom and humor almost as no other musician of our era, cannot ever be forgotten. He is interwoven with the DNA -- the molecular musical material -- of the sounds of our lifetimes forevermore.
To celebrate the life of this seminal Scorpio of song, I am putting into the cloud one of the few captures that exist of our hero being broadcast on the radio airwaves. This set dates from about a quarter century ago and features The Mose Allison Trio of the early 1990s turning in a tight, hilarious and highly representative 49 minutes of what makes this man so revered among those that knows.
Mose Allison Trio
Jazzfest
Musik-Instrumenten-Museum
Berlin, Germany
11.27.1992

01 Indian Love Call/Power House/City Home
02 When You're Going to the City
03 Tell Me Something
04 Your Molecular Structure
05 announcement by Mose Allison
06 Do Nothin' Til You Hear from Me
07 I Feel So Good
08 Announcement by Mose Allison
09 Trouble In Mind
10 Gettin' There
11 I Don't Want Much
12 Ever Since the World Ended
13 Announcement by Mose Allison
14 I Love the Life I Live

Total time: 48:56

Mose Allison - vocals and piano
Sigi Busch - bass
Jerry Granelli - drums

digital capture of a digital FM rebroadcast on Kulturradio
309 MB FLAC here
A bizarre aspect of this show is the presence of German bass superstar Sigi Busch, MPS label luminary and a future possible subject for a tribute on this here page. If you know Mose you are likely already clicking the link and ignoring my thoroughly phoned-in spiel, but if you don't this tape -- captured from a pristine rebroadcast on the radio in Europe -- would be a great place to begin. Either way, it makes a fitting tribute to Mose Allison, one of the treasured icons of the music we adore who has left this frequency after six full decades of song -- really almost 90 years on Earth! -- and a long lifetime of enrichment and enlightenment no one who ever dug him will ever forget.--J.
11.11.1927 - 11.15.2016