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Honoring the iconic blues and ironic humor of Mose Allison

Mose Allison
Gai Terrell
Mose Allison

Among the many ideas that fell under the skeptical gaze of Mose Allison, one that fell closer to home than most was the subject of his own public image. "I always say, 'any single thing you say about Mose Allison is going to be wrong,' " he once mused to NPR's Jazz Profiles. "For a while they were saying, 'Oh, he's a blues piano player.' That's not right." He added: "So any one thing, any attempt to categorize me with a one-liner — you know it's not gonna make it."

Allison died in 2016, at 89. As a singer who exuded homespun charisma, a pianist who favored crisp economy, and a songwriter whose wry inventions inspired everyone from The Who to Diana Krall, he left an irreplaceable legacy. He also left behind a body of songs that beg to be sung, which is where John Chin and Richard Julian come in.

Chin is a jazz pianist born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in LA. Julian is a rootsy singer-songwriter originally from Delaware. They met on the New York club scene, forming a group — Anything Mose! — with Allison's tunes and soulfully laconic delivery in clear focus.

"The songs are so wise," Julian reflects in this episode of Jazz Night in America. "It always feels very centering to sing them."

Vocalist and guitarist Richard Julian with pianist John Chin and saxophonist Stacy Dillard on stage at Dizzy's Club in 2018.
Lawrence Sumulong / Jazz at Lincoln Center
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Vocalist and guitarist Richard Julian with pianist John Chin and saxophonist Stacy Dillard on stage at Dizzy's Club in 2018.

We'll hear highlights of a set by Anything Mose! and get to know Allison's story, partly in his own words. We'll also join Chin and Julian on a road trip to Mose's home in Hilton Head, S.C., where they're greeted with gracious hospitality (and a few choice stories) by his widow, Audre Allison.

"The spirit of Mose and the legacy of his music, it just lives on," attests Chin. "And we're trying to carry that torch and keep it going."


John Chin, piano; Richard Julian, vocals, guitar; Stacy Dillard, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Matt Pavolka, bass; Dan Rieser, drums.

Set List:

All music by Mose Allison

  • If You're Going To The City
  • Parchman Farm
  • Everybody's Crying Mercy
  • The Seventh Sun
  • Your Molecular Structure
  • Young Man Blues
  • Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Concert engineer: Rob Macomber; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Vice President of Visuals and Strategy at NPR Music: Keith Jenkins; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand.

    Special thanks to Greg Bryant; Audre Allison; Dave Masteller, Kelli Lesch and John Cranford at The Jazz Corner; and Kayonne Riley at WUCF

    Copyright 2022 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

    [Copyright 2024 WRTI Your Classical and Jazz Source]