Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Allison, Mose (John Jr.)

Allison, Mose (John Jr.), pianist, singer, writer; b. Tippo, Miss., 11 November 1927.

His father was a cotton farmer and storekeeper and amateur stride pianist. Mose heard blues on the juke box in a gas station. He took piano lessons from the age of five until his early 'teens, when he also taught himself trumpet, which he played in the high school band of nearby Charleston, Miss. He also played piano on weekends in a band at a "honky tonk" near Greenwood.

In 1945 he enrolled at the University of Mississippi in Oxford to study chemical engineering, but soon began playing and writing for the band. During 1946-47 he spent 18 months in Army bands, then returned to college until 1950, when he decided to pursue music full time, at first in Lake Charles and then in other towns in Louisiana. On a summer job in St. Louis he met Audre Schwartz whom he married in 1951. (That summer he also visited NYC for the first time.) They moved to Baton Rouge where he completed his B.A. in English at Louisiana State University in 1952, while continuing to perform locally. After several more years freelancing in the Southeast and in Texas and Colorado, often with bassist Taylor La Fargue, the Allisons moved to N.Y. in 1956; by 1959 they had four children.

Allison worked with Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz (1957), and Gerry Mulligan. During 1957 he also formed his own trio and soon achieved success in this format, performing in NY, Paris, Stockholm, and Copenhagen, sometimes with the addition of local musicians.

His daughter Amy Allison, is an acclaimed singer and songwriter with the country-influenced band Parlor James whose first release was in 1996.

Recordings:
Back Country Suite (1957); The Transfiguration of Hiram Brown (1959); I Love the Life I Live (1960); Don't Worry About A Thing (1962); The Word from Mose (1964); Western Man (1971); Your Mind Is on Vacation (1976); Middle Class White Boy (1982); Ever Since the World Ended (1987); Earth Wants You (1993).

Bibliography:
One Man's Blues: The Life and Music of Mose Allison by Patti Jones (1998)
R. Doerschuk, Talkin' 'Bout Our Generations: M. and Amy A., Musician [December 1996];
Dom Cerulli: Mose Allison's Country-Style Jazz, Down Beat, 25/9 (1958);
Bob Dawbarn: Mose - To Him Music Means Everything, Melody Maker, 8.Aug.1964;
Max Jones: Talent and 20 Years Experience, Says M.A., in: Melody Maker, 29.Aug.1964;
Jajajivan: Mose Discloses. An Interview with M.A., Down Beat, 39/9 (1972);
Michael Bourne: M.A.. Share a Little Joke with the Blues, in: Down Beat, 43/15 (9.Sep.1976);
Donald Fred Truitt: M.A. Interview, Cadence, 8/9 (Sep.1982);
P. Jones, "The Analysis of the Music and Evolution of Style of Composer/Singer/Pianist, M.A." (Masters thesis, U. of Missouri-Kansas City, 1985;
John Detro: M.A. - Backyard Bluesman, Jazz Times, Jun.1990;
Trevor Hodgett: M.A.. Local Colour, Coda 260 (Mar/Apr.1995);
Patti Jones: One Man's Blues. The Life and Music of M.A.London 1995 (derived partly from her thesis, U. of Missouri, 1985);
Gordon Jack: M.A., Jazz Journal, 48/6 (Jun.1995);
Mike Bieber: So Goes Mose's Prose, Jazziz, 14/3 (Mar.1997)
Schnabel, Stolen Moments, 11-16. Interview.

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