Mose Allison, Syreeta: Bottom Line, New York NY

SYREETA WRIGHT’S exhortations were built around Stevie Wonder, whose name was mentioned often and with reverence throughout the performance. Syreeta left no doubt that she was Stevie’s former wife and that they wrote songs together (‘Signed, Sealed and Delivered’). Most of the program was devoted to their collaborations and was also carefully built around her new Motown album.

The voice is agile and climbs around the vocal lines but it is all placed in a controlled environment. Her soul is the sophisticated kind, not the grunt, groan and perspiration school. She sounds as if she has eyes on a wider MOR audience — her own songs reflect this, quietly in a soul groove, melodic enough without making waves — and visually she looks a million miles away from the decayed denim set onstage.

Mose Allison topped the bill, nasally intoning his down-South reflections and underlining and buttressing it all with some hard, swinging piano. His singing is really icing on the cake; the strength is in the piano work. He is what used to be a rarity, a modern jazz pianist with a strong left hand. Strange that his reputation is based on his singing. Or given the current state of the music business, perhaps not.

© Ian DoveRolling Stone, 24 October 1974

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