Even in the demimonde of jazz, pianist/vocalist/songwriter Mose Allison is a cult figure.

Even in the demimonde of jazz, pianist/vocalist/songwriter Mose Allison is a cult figure. His unique mix of blues and stride-influenced hard-bop piano with witty lyrics and droll delivery have made him hard to classify but easy to like. His material has been covered by Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, the Yardbirds, the Who, Eric Clapton, and Van Morrison. This disc, the first of two volumes recorded at London's Pizza Express, marks Allison's 50th anniversary as a performer. The recording doesn't fully capture the vibe of an Allison show, as producer Ben Sidran edits out the wry commentary that often brackets each tune, but this set offers many of Allison's best-known songs, such as "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy" and "Middle Class White Boy," as well as superb renditions of the Willie Dixon classics "Seventh Son" and "I Love the Life I Live." This makes a fine starting point for those just new to Allison, while longtime cult members will find it a good addition to their collection.—MJ