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Poet Laureate Of The Blues

Mose Allison took over the Fleck Dance Theatre on Tuesday night as part of the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival. The 81-year-old Mississippi born jazz singer, pianist and composer blessed the audience with his joyful spirit and accomplished easy going singing and piano playing. An unassuming blues based, jazz piano player whose influence is felt through his well known songs - many of them performed by the biggest rock acts.

His accompanists, Neil Swainson on acoustic bass and John Sumner on drums provided a swinging, blues based background to all the tunes that Mr. Allison performed. Mr. Swainson provided excitement and thoughtful bass motifs with harmonic musing on each break that he was given. He also acted as the set coordinator letting Mr. Allison know the next song. Unable to remember the set list, yet he has the song lyrics and music tightly tucked away in his data bank.

A happy go lucky feeling pervades the mood of the show, regardless of the lyrics always and underlying swinging bluesy feel with equal parts of humour and philosophical wisdom. The show was as an anthology of Mose Allison songs a good example on CD is the Allison Wonderland - An Anthology of Mose Allison(1994 Atlantic Records).

Some of the songs performed included "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde", "City Home", "Tell Me Something", "Your Molecular Structure", "One Of These Days", "Certified Senior Citizen" this song was a set up for a funny moment of forgetting what’s next. The crowd in energetic applause had drowned out the dialogue between Swainson and Allison. In a moment that seemed, as a typically serious Mr. Swainson put it, "A senior citizen moment". As Mr. Allison comes over to check out the song list, he is overheard to say in response "Certified". A few minutes of study, over the song list and he returns to his piano stool to announce the song, "Certified Senior Citizen" to a rousing chuckle from the audience.

The show moved forward in a rushed manner, songs flowing one after the other - so many songs, such little time. The Jimmy Davis song, Davis is the former governor of Louisiana, "You Are My Sunshine" was given a bright rendering. Other classics that we were treated to, "Ever Since The World Ended" a tune that makes you feel better upon completion. On ending the set, Mose Allison thanked the crowd and told us he hoped to see us again. He seemed surprised to find the audience were on their feet clapping and cheering. This was the first of two standing ovations for this American National Treasure. He sashayed back to the piano, announced the next song and played the encore numbers "This Ain’t Me" and "Baby Please Don’t Go" by big Joe Williams. A delightful show.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mose Allison
  • Concert Date: 6/30/2009
  • Subtitle: A Molecular Marvel
  • Venue: Fleck Dance Theatre
  • City State Country: Toronto
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