After years of Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones and others, Allison was something new. The album we heard on the record player that humid Delta afternoon in the early '70s was really something old, "Mose Allison Sings," recorded in 1959.
Allison's hip, swinging voice and breathtaking piano synthesized and revitalized music I'd grown up with: jazz, country, the blues (black and white).
A wonderful songwriter whose lyrics exhibited a Southern country folk wisdom brought to the city, Allison also sparkled on cover versions of "That's All Right," "Seventh Son" and Duke Ellington's "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me." He later joked that he was called a jazz player performing the blues and a blues player performing jazz.
Allison represented a new musical maturity, along with the Band, leading me to explore the seminal work of Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and others.
While dazzled by concerts like Bob Dylan and the Band in Houston's Astrodome, I and some of my friends experienced Allison on a more intimate, sophisticated level, at clubs like the Kingfish in Baton Rouge and the Maple Leaf in New Orleans.
Allison's recent death at age 89 brought an outpouring of acclaim, especially from British musicians like Van Morrison and Peter Townsend who saw him as a major influence.
I associate Mose with my farewell to youth. His music never lost the richness and power that shook me on that warm New Orleans afternoon long ago.