By 1970, I did own the ultimate prep school jazz album, Swiss Movement by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, which wasn't a bad place to start. I have it on my iPod today and it still sounds great. As a starter jazz album, it was definitely a little easier to get into than Miles Davis or Coltrane.
When I got to Tufts and Floyd's Hotel was up and running, there was one exception to the usual suspects on our turntable. It was The Best of Mose Allison. I'm not sure how we originally got on to this album. It probably came from the influence of frequent hotel guest, Mike Martenek, aka, The Maniac.
Floyd and I knew a funny little guy named Spike McFee who worked somewhere he could pick up albums with an employee discount. He was always willing to trade albums with the hotel staff. I can remember getting The Best of Mose Allison from him.
Mose Allison was born in Tippo, Mississippi in 1927. He played piano and trumpet as a child. After going to college at The University of Mississippi and Louisiana State and a stint in the U.S. Army, he began playing in New York City in 1956. His songs are known for their literary lyrics. He has influenced many other musicians including John Mayall, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and The Who, who recorded his song Young Man Blues. His songs have also been recorded by Bonnie Raitt and Leon Russell among others.
Mose combines fine piano playing with the witty lyrics of his original compositions. His best songs like Your Mind is On Vacation (But Your Mouth Is Working Overtime), I Love the Life I Live, Your Molecular Structure have a hipster's sensibility and outlook on the world. His piano and the backing of his trio is tasteful and the songs are witty and hip. Check out these lyrics from Your Mind Is On Vacation:
You're quoting figures, you're dropping names
You're telling stories, you're playing games
You laugh when things ain't funny
You try to sound like you don't need money
If talk was criminal, you'd lead a life of crime
Cause you're mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime
I was lucky to see Mose in Austin at the Continental Club in October of 1999. It was a great show. When I tried to chat Mose up at the bar afterwards, he was quite uninterested in this author and humble fan. Maybe it was my aftershave?
If you are not familiar with his work, be sure to pick up this CD for your playlist. It is available on iTunes and from Amazon.