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Enlightenment (EN5CD9036)

11 original albums including Back Country Suite, Local Color, Creek Bank, Young Man Mose, Autumn Song, I Love The Life I Live, Transfiguration Of Hiram Brown, Ramblin’ With Mose Allison, Mose Allison Takes To The Hills, Swingin’ Machine and I Don’t Worry About A Thing

The early recordings of a seriously hip jazz pianist who, as well as being a tremendous jazz musician, loves to sing and play the blues. For these reasons perhaps, Mose has always been hugely popular among jazz and blues fans alike and, within this marvellous collection, there are plenty of reasons to see why.

Across these five CDs, there are a mind-boggling 11 complete albums, presented in full and in the sequence that they were released by Prestige, Columbia, Prestige, Epic and Atlantic. There are already quite a few other Mose compilations available, some of which cover the much of same ground as here. But, if looking to balance the context of the music, the coverage and scope of what is on offer, and the price and value, this set is now pretty much the one to beat.

Ideal for those with little or no Mose Allison in their collection, there are a also some very good reasons for committed fans to give this a sympathetic look, as it does contain some albums that are pretty difficult to find elsewhere (or at least without paying a pretty penny for the privilege). For example, the Transfiguration Of Hiram Brown album included in this set has long been unavailable on CD, or at least without buying the expensive High Jinks! 3CD set that Columbia put out in 1994 (which itself is now deleted and presumably now even more expensive and hard to track down). Also, good luck in tracking down the Takes To The Hills album on CD at any price - but it is included here!

While this set has little in the way of notes and details in its brief booklet (what do you expect for such a ridiculously low price?), the music is sensational throughout. On the vocal tracks, Mose is wry, smart, urbane and cool, whether singing his versions of blues classics such as Eyesight To The Blind, That’s All Right, I Love The Life I Live, Parchman Farm or One Room Country Shack or his own excellent songs, including Young Man Blues, Your Mind Is On Vacation, Stop This World and It Didn’t Turn Out That Way. On the instrumental tunes, Mose invariably leads just a trio featuring his piano plus bass and drums on a compelling mix of own tunes and sympathetic readings of standards. Mose is a master of his instrument, both the thrillingly pacy jazz workouts and the sombre and reflective slower tunes. And he was always able to select the very best and most sympathetic bassists and drummers to work with on these sessions.

This collection has hours of beautifully presented music and every serious music lover should have at least some Mose Allison in their collection. The contents of this set, and its rather excellent price, makes this very hard to resist. Thankfully, you don’t have to!


Review Date: April 2015

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