Pianist, singer/songwriter, producer, author, and host Ben Sidran is a literate performer known for his engaging, jazz-influenced sound and laid-back, conversational style. Essentially a pianist/vocalist with a storytelling approach in the tradition of Mose Allison, Sidran grew from a supporting player with rocker Steve Miller to a solo performer, and to an award-winning radio and TV host. Along the way, he has produced albums for such luminaries as Allison, Van Morrison, Michael Franks, Rickie Lee Jones, and others.
Three formerly rare Mose Allison albums originally cut for Columbia and Epic (Transfiguration of Hiram Brown, I Love The Life I Live and V-8 Ford Blues) are reissued in full on this attractive three-CD set plus six previously unreleased numbers. During this period (which dates between his associations with the Prestige and Atlantic labels), Mose Allison was making the transition from being a pianist-vocalist to a vocalist-pianist. He sings on roughly half the selections including "Baby, Please Don't Go," "'Deed I Do," "Fool's Paradise" and "I Love The Life I Live." The instrumentals (which also feature Addison Farmer, Henry Grimes, Bill Crow or Aaron Bell on bass and Jerry Segal, Paul Motian, Gus Johnson or Osie Johnson on drums) are highlighted by the interesting eight-song "Hiram Brown Suite." Mose Allison fans will want to go out of their way to get this set.
Mose Allison, one of the top lyricists of the '90s, shows throughout this entertaining CD that his powers as a pianist and singer are also very much intact. The album introduces a few new classics in "Certified Senior Citizen," "This Ain't Me" and "Who's in, Who's Out." His voice is still in prime form and his piano playing remains quite unique. It is true that the guests on the set (guitarist John Scofield, altoist Joe Lovano, Bob Malach on tenor and trumpeter Randy Brecker) are not all that necessary but Allison's performance makes this an excellent showcase for his music.
Besides cool playing and his uniquely smoky singing, Mose has great taste in material. "Hey Good Lookin'" fits right in with revisited versions of "I Love the Life I Live," "I Ain't Got Nobody" and "Baby Please Don't Go," complete with what the singer himself calls his distinctive "involuntary groan" during the piano solo. Teo Macero's intimate production makes it feel like you're right there in the studio.
The Mose Allison installment in Atlantic's Jazz Anthology series of 1970 is superior to most in that line simply on the grounds of time. Since Allison's songs were usually brief, Atlantic was able to fit 12 of them onto a single LP and thus provide a wider selection of his output, unlike others in that series that included only five or six tracks, making it serve as a pretty good capsule introduction to one of American music's most idiosyncratic individualists. Many of his most famous songs are here – "Your Mind Is on Vacation," "New Parchman," "I'm the Wild Man," "I Don't Worry About a Thing," and "Your Molecular Structure," along with covers like "Rollin' Stone" and a rushed live remake of his biggest "hit," Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son".