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James Moody (saxophonist)

James Moody (born March 26 1925) is a jazz saxophone and flute player. He is best known for his hit "Moody's Mood for Love," an improvisation based on I'm in the Mood for Love; in performance, he often improvises vocals for that tune.

Life and career

James Moody was born in Savannah, Georgia. As he grew up in New Jersey, he was attracted to the saxophone after hearing George Holmes Tate, Don Byas, and Count Basie, and later also took up the flute. He joined the US Air Force in 1943 and played in the "negro band" on the segregated base. Following his discharge from the military in 1946 he played be-bop with Dizzy Gillespie for two years. His colleague in the Gillespie group, pianist Kenny Barron would be an important musical collaborator in the coming decades.

In 1948 he recorded his first album, for Blue Note Records, the first of a long recording career playing both saxophone and flute. That same year he relocated to Europe, where he stayed for three years, saying he had been "scarred by racism" in the U.S . His European work, including the first recording of "Moody's Mood For Love" saw him add the alto saxophone to his repertoire and helped to establish him as recording artist in his own right, and were part of the growth of European jazz. Then in 1952 he returned to the U.S. to a recording career with Prestige Records and others, playing the flute and the soprano saxophone as well as tenor and baritone. In the 1960s he rejoined Dizzy Gillespie. He later worked also with Mike Longo.

Even as an octogenarian, Moody travels and performs globally, both as a featured guest and as a leader of his own group, the James Moody Quartet (with pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Todd Coolman, and drummer Adam Nussbaum). Moody plays regularly with Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars Big Band and also often collaborates with former Gillespie alumnus, the trumpeter-composer-conductor Jon Faddis; Faddis and Moody worked in 2007 with the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany under the direction of Michael Abene.

Personal life

Moody is married to Linda Moody; they reside in San Diego, CA. He is an active member of the Bahá'í Faith. In 2005, the Moodys established the Moody Scholarship Fund at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College-SUNY; the first Moody Scholars, named in 2007, are saxophonist Andrew Gould and trumpeter Maxilmilien Darche. Moody is an NEA Jazz Master and often participates in educational programming and outreach, including with the International Association for Jazz Education, or IAJE.

Selected recordings

  • James Moody's Greatest Hits (1949)
  • More of James Moody's Greatest Hits (1951)

These two, recorded in Sweden for Metronome Records with Swedish musicians including baritone sax player Lars Gullin have been released on a single CD as Moody's Blues.

  • Wail, Moody, Wail (1955) Prestige Records, produced by Rudy Van Gelder
  • Moody's Mood For Blues (1955)
  • Moody's Mood for Love (1956)
  • Hey It's James Moody (1956) with a quartet, recorded in Chicago
  • James Moody (1959) Argo Records
  • 'Flute 'n' the Blues (1959) - his debut on flute (this album is contained in the CD release of Hey It's James Moody.
  • Another Bag (1962) Argo Records
  • Comin' On Strong (1963) Argo Records

these two are Moody's first albums featuring pianist Kenny Barron and have been released on a single CD as Fly Me to the Moon.

  • Cookin' the Blues (1965) reissued on CD as At The Jazz Workshop
  • The Blues and Other Colours (1968-9) Moody on soprano and flute with ten-piece groups, arrangements by Tom McIntosh
  • Don't Look Away Now (1969)
  • Feelin' It Together (1973) with Barron,
  • Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra Live at the Royal Festival Hall (1989) Moody solos on Kush and Night in Tunisia
  • Moody Plays Mancini (1997) Warner Bros. Records
  • The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars Dizzy's World directed by Jon Faddis (1999)
  • The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band Things to Come (2001)
  • Homage (2004) Moody playing compositions especially written for him by Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and others. Savoy Records


External links

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