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Celebrated Jazz Musician Mose Allison Dies At 89

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Pianist, singer and composer Mose Allison's witty and often-acerbic lyrics — delivered with a distinctive Southern drawl — were favorites of jazz fans and the British rockers who covered his songs — from The Who to The Clash to Van Morrison.

Born in Tippo, Miss., Mose died Tuesday morning at his home in Hilton Head, S.C., after celebrating his 89th birthday last Friday. He died of natural causes.

Allison was inspired by the blues musicians he heard around him and by Nat King Cole. He combined those influences to create something distinctive.

He wound up in New York City. He played with jazz stars like Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan. When people heard him sing, they thought he was African-American.

"It doesn't matter whether you're black or white," he said in response. "What matters is whether you're good."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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