Tribute to the iconic blues and wry humor of Mose Allison


Of the many ideas that fell under Mose Allison’s skeptical gaze, one that fell closer to home than most was the subject of its own public image. “I always say, ‘everything you say about Mose Allison is going to be wrong,'” he once said reflexive to NPRs Jazz Profiles. “For a while they were like, ‘Oh, he’s a blues pianist. It’s not fair.” He added, “So any thing, any attempt to categorize me with a one-liner – you know it’s not gonna work.”

Allison died in 2016, at age 89. As a singer who exuded local charisma, a pianist who promoted a clean economy, and a songwriter whose tongue-in-cheek inventions inspired everyone from The Who to Diana Krall, he left an irreplaceable legacy. He also left behind a body of songs just waiting 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 Los Angeles. Julian is a singer-songwriter originally from Delaware. They met on the New York club scene, forming a band – Anything Mose! — with Allison tunes and a soulfully laconic delivery in a clear focus.

“The songs are so wise,” says Julian in this episode of Jazz night in America. “It’s always very centered to sing them.”

We’ll hear the best moments from an Anything Mose set! and hear Allison’s story, partly in her own words. We’ll also join Chin and Julian on a road trip to Mose’s home in Hilton Head, SC, where they’ll be greeted with gracious hospitality (and some choice stories) by his widow, Audre Allison.

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

The musicians:

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

Define list:

All music by Mose Allison

  • If you go to town
  • Parchman Farm
  • Everyone cries for mercy
  • the seventh sun
  • Your molecular structure
  • The young man’s blues


Screenwriter 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 Jazz Corner; and Kayonne Riley at the WUCF


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