Mose Allison, Influential Blues & Jazz Pianist Has Died, Age 89
Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:17:30
Mose Allison, influential blues and jazz pianist whose songs were covered by an array of rock veterans, died Tuesday at the age of 89 of natural causes. Allison's death was confirmed by his daughter Amy in Rolling Stone.
Primarily known as a pianist, Allison also received praise for vocal abilities. He built a repertoire that drew on bebop, Delta Blues, pop and classical styles. As a result of his far reaching blending of genres the artist's earliest labels struggled to find a marketable angle. Atlantic and Columbia logged him as a blues artist whilst Prestige filed him as a pop star.
Ultimately Allison defied such categorization, as his songs would go on to be covered by an extensive and diverse collection of artists including the Bangles, Robert Palmer, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Rogers, Leon Russell, the Who, Elvis Costello, The Yardbirds, Van Morrison, the Gories, Hut Tuna and The Clash.
Allison began playing the piano at age five and was soon recreating songs he heard on a local jukebox, which he learned by ear.
After the 40's, and a stint in the army when he played in a touring army band, Allison moved to New York City, and in 1956 he began his professional career, signing a record deal with composer-saxophonist Al Cohn and releasing his first album, Back Country Suite in 1957.
Also in that year Allison released another album, Local Color, which featured a reworking of Bukka White's prison blues, "Parchman Farm". That track became one of Allison's best known songs, and inspired countless other artists to cover the song in the years that followed.
Later Allison formed his own trio with drummer Nick Stabulas and bassist Addison Farmer, also performing with numerous jazz legends like Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan and Stan Getz.
Allison retired from live performance in 2012 and was named a jazz master by the National Endowment of the Arts one year later.
In 2015, he released what would become his final album, Mose Allison American Legend, Live in California.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff