- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

You can take Mose Allison out of his native Tippo, Miss., but the music of the legendary pianist and singer makes clear the reverse isn't true.
"I'm expressing attitudes, and (they have) a lot of background in the place I was raised," Mr. Allison, 73, says via phone from a hotel in California. "There's a lot of understated irony."
Fusing jazz and blues with witty lyrics, Mr. Allison has been penning tunes inspired by Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. These songs have influenced performers ranging from the Who to Tom Waits. He brings those five decades of experience with him tonight through Sunday at Blues Alley.
When asked how he began his musical life, he laughs and says "I was born," in a deep-voiced, yet gentle, Southern accent. He follows that up with, "I took music lessons as a child and there was always a piano in the house. My dad was a self-taught pianist, so it was always a part of my life."
His childhood interest in music led him to start writing songs at age 12 and to play in a variety of high school and military bands before he launched his professional career in the 1950s.
"There was a jazz boom going on in the late '50s and early '60s … it was sort of popular at that stage," he says.
With more than two dozen albums to his credit since then, Mr. Allison has spent less time recording than in the past. But the newer albums he releases tend to be on par with his classic early works.
On his 1997 "Gimcracks and Gewgaws," for instance, he matches his rolling piano lines and love for bebop with clever observations on everything from modern technology to the process of aging. His latest album, "The Mose Chronicles Live in London, Vol. 1," takes material he's fond of singing during his yearly stint at the Pizza Express in London.
"I work there six weeks a year, and I have good players there," Mr. Allison says. "I feel like I can settle down there. … There's no place in America now where you can play that much at one time."
Despite his age, he plays about 120 nights per year, something he feels is a boon as the public's taste for jazz has waned.
"It's gotten a lot more commercial. I know hundreds of good jazz players, and if they're making a living, they're lucky," he says. "I'll just keep doing what I'm doing."

Pop punk may be getting a lot of commercial attention because of MTV darlings Blink-182, but for those who prefer their punk rock a little less radio-friendly, the Selby Tigers are a shining example of what melodic punk sounds like.
"I think it makes it kind of hard for us to do what we're doing," says drummer and vocalist Dave Gatchell from his home in Minneapolis, about the pop punk boom. "I like some pop punk, but I don't need that much of it."
The quartet is made up of guitarist-vocalist Arzu "D2" Gokcen; her husband, guitarist-vocalist Nathan Grumdahl; bass player-vocalist Dave Gardner and Mr. Gatchell. Three of the four grew up around Selby Avenue in St. Paul, Minn., with Mr. Gardner coming in from Pittsburgh. All four alternate songwriting and generally sing the songs they pen.
The Selby Tigers are in town Monday at Nation as part of the Plea for Peace Take Action Tour, along with Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music, Cave In and a half-dozen other bands.
Although they often are dubbed pop-punk musicians, the band members have more in common with late '70s punk bands, such as the New York Dolls, than more commercially successful acts like Green Day and Weezer.
Switching vocalists between cuts gives the band's full length debut "Charm City," a refreshing feel, with humorous lyrics satirizing everything from overzealous peewee hockey parents to the seeming irrelevance of high school geometry.
"We're kind of unique in that all four of us write songs," Mr. Gardner says. "Any one of us could come in with a song or an idea. It takes a lot of trust."
The band has been touring constantly in support of "Charm City," with opening slots before Rocket from the Crypt, Alkaline Trio and the Anniversary.
"We've toured on that record for almost a year," Mr. Gatchell says. "We know what we didn't like about it and what we do like about it."
The Selby Tigers plan another album this fall, with a more aggressive spin on the formula that is already gaining the band a cult audience around the country.

When Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, dropped his best-selling album "You've Come a Long Way, Baby," on the world in 1998, he was at once embraced by the masses and derided by techno purists. His follow-up release last fall, "Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars," (which he brings to the 9:30 Club tonight) is his way of finding a middle ground between his dance floor and fraternity house audiences.
This third album, which features Mr. Slim's trademark big beat sound, funk samples and the kind of monster hooks usually reserved for rock records, also veers into the mellow world of trip-hop, trance and rhythm and blues. Highlights include the Jim Morrison-sampled "Sunset (Bird of Prey)," the Macy Gray soul anthem "Demons" and the 11-minute tribute to house music "Song for Shelter."


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