Track Selection: In Salah (trans. “prayer”)
Mose Allison (p, vo) Taylor LaFargue (b) Frank Isola (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, March 7, 1957
At 83 Mose Allison is still rocking the piano. Back in the late fifties, when he recorded “Back Country Suite” for Prestige, the Mississippi-born pianist and singer was a singular talent. He was an economical jazz pianist whose songs drifted into a highly idiosyncratic brand of blues. His style defies classification – “the missing link between jazz and blues,” Ray Davies of The Kinks (and Olympic’s closing ceremony) describes it. Though his piano style is rooted in Delta stride and boogie-woogie, Allison fused that into bebop jazz, then added folk music’s trenchant lyrics to further confuse the issue.
You may know more Mose Allison than you think. He became a favorite of Sixties British blues-rockers, The Yardbirds “I’m Not Talking,” and John Mayall “Parchman Farm”. The Who covered his “Young Man Blues,” and Van Morrison released an entire tribute album.The track that caught my eye on Back Country Suite was the instrumental “In Shalah”. George Wallington Quintet (featuring Phil Woods and Donald Byrd) 1957 recording New York Scene featured a cracking track “In Salah” attributed to one Mose Allison. As it turns out, Wallington recorded it at the Van Gelder studios one week before Allison recorded the piano version for Back Country Suite at the same studios. Wallington’s version of ”In Salah” is misquoted in his discography as “In Sarah”. I doubt Sarah was much pleased with that dedication. In Salah means prayer in arabic, as any modern diversity-trained fule noes.It’s a tremendous fast paced swinger, not especially a celestial tweet. Try the Wallington interpretation:
Vinyl: Esquire32-051 UK release of US Prestige PRLP 7091
UK cover by cartoonist/illustrator Ralph Steadman, he of the ricketty clicketty “SoulTrane”
RVG and US stamper catalogue number
Source: London record store
Inexpensive find in the new arrivals shelf of London vinyl store, along side a half dozen other Mose Allison records, as is usual when a collector sells records of their favourites. Mingus’s are also often found in packs. If you like one you are more than likely to have many. I didn’t have any Mose Allison records, this seemed one to open the door.
Not sure I am ready for the singing quite yet, but it is interesting to hear a source of those Sixties Brit- blues band songs from my youth. Straight back to Viv Stanshall’s Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s immortal question “Can a blue man sing the whites?” Yes he can.