Went last night to see Mose Allison and Patricia Barber as part of this year’s San Francisco Jazz Festival (scored tickets through Barber’s sound guy, an old housemate).
Barber looks like a librarian, but plays like Geri Allen meets Cecil Taylor (well, the Cecil reference is a bit extreme), with a voice that is somehow both soaring and subdued, on the dry side, very personal. Barber’s band was tight, but somehow I kept feeling like I wanted them to unleash a bit more power/freedom. Something slightly academic in their vibe prevented me from really being floored. Nevertheless, there were some incredible sounds, and their fascinating deconstruction of Norwegian Wood was like no version of that song you’ve ever heard.
Mose Allison looked like he hadn’t changed a bit in 30 years (maybe because he looked 70 even in his 40s). baald described his blues/stride style as “comfortable, like old sneakers” — which is accurate. But you don’t listen to Mose for musical innovation so much as for his whimsical philosophical/political/scientific meanderings. Kind of a Tom Waits/Randy Newman for the previous generation.
Check his Your Molecular Structure (iTMS link).
2 Replies to “Mose Allison / Patricia Barber”
I saw Mose about two years ago at a high school (i believe it was in ipswitch). It was such a fantastic show… The whole experience was hypnotic, I could have sat there for days listening to him play..
I saw Mose once maybe 10 years ago and really enjoyed it. His wit and humor really made for a great show, as did a full array of some of his best songs.
My favorite Mose Allison memory though is driving through empty streets of industrial Oakland about 15 years ago on a Sunday and seeing some old white guy crossing the street wearing a Mose Allison T-Shirt. I think it said MOSE ALLISON FOR PRESIDENT – in plain white letters that looked like the style of iron on tshirt messages from the 70s. Always wondered if it could have been Mose himself, and even if it wasn’t the memory of the doubletake I did when I saw that shirt, in that context, lingers on with me as much as Mose’s songs do…
how’s it go – “Your Molecular Structure is really something fine, a first rate example of Intelligent Design”? ;^0
No, wait, it’s more like:
â€œYour molecular structure is really something swell / a high frequency modulated jezebel / Thermodynamically, youâ€™re getting to me,â€?
says Mal, whose mind is on vacation but his mouth is workin’ overtime.