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The Mose Chronicles Vol. 2: Greatest Hits Live In London Volume 2 (2002)

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Mose Allison

The second volume drawn from Mose Allison's January 2000 run at London's Pizza Express presents the artist in a professional, if relaxed, form. Volume one was billed as an in-concert look at Allison's early, oft-covered material, but actually included a healthy number of selections from his prime later-career output. This second installment comes closer to that stated goal, as every single song dates back to the '50s and '60s. As a result, it's even more remarkable that Allison finds ways to make them sound vital and fresh; "Tell Me Something" features a piano solo that's alternately gentle and dramatic, while "Just Like Livin'" is revealed as an underappreciated summation of Allison's lyrical outlook. The rhythm section anticipates the bandleader's every twist, displaying particular synergy on an offhandedly cool "Molecular Structure" taken at a near-breakneck pace. That's not surprising considering that bassist Roy Babbington and drummer Mark Taylor are longtime Allison associates estimated to have accompanied him for more than 1,000 dates. Better yet, volume two supplements Allison's standard jazz trio format with a guitarist, Jim Mullen, who proves a master of improvisation, most notably on the riveting extended jam during "You Can Count on Me." As the years go by, tricky moves like Allison's held-note vocal on "One of These Days" feel less like gimmicks and more like personal statements, and The Mose Chronicles: Live in London, Vol. 2 is full of that kind of crowd-pleasing detail. The album succeeds both as an introduction to Allison's weighty song catalog and as a glimpse of his latter-day live act.