James Moody (saxophonist)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

James Moody (March 26, 1925 – December 9, 2010) was an American jazz saxophone and flute player. He was 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 improvised vocals for the tune.



James Moody was born in Savannah, Georgia. Growing 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 Army Air Corps 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 [Moody played with Gillespie in 1964). His colleague in the 1964 Gillespie group, pianist [[Kenny Barron][Les Spann, guitar]] would be an important musical collaborator (Kenny Barron never collaborated with Dizzy) in the coming decades.

In 1948 he recorded his first session for Blue Note Records, the first in 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 flute and saxophone in bands that included musicians such as Pee Wee Moore and others. In the 1960s he rejoined Dizzy Gillespie. He later worked also with Mike Longo.

In a 1998 interview with Bob Bernotas, Moody stated that he believed jazz has definite spiritual resonance.

The James Moody Quartet (with pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Todd Coolman, and drummer Adam Nussbaum) was Moody's vehicle later is his career.. Moody played regularly with Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars Big Band and also often collaborated 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.

On November 3, 2009, Moody appeared live in an interview conducted in both Italian and English (Moody spoke Italian) with the jazz aficionado, Nick "The Nightfly", on Radio Monte Carlo's late-night "Monte Carlo Nights" program. The chat featured an amiable Moody talking about his career.

Moody was married to Linda Moody; they resided in San Diego. He was 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 was an NEA Jazz Master and often participated in educational programming and outreach, including with the International Association for Jazz Education, or IAJE.

On November 2, 2010, Moody's wife announced on his behalf that he had pancreatic cancer, and had chosen not to have it treated aggressively. Moody died in San Diego, on December 9, 2010, of complications from pancreatic cancer.


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As leader

  • 1949: James Moody's Greatest Hits
  • 1951: More of James Moody's Greatest Hits
  • 1955: Wail, Moody, Wail Prestige Records, produced by Rudy Van Gelder
  • 1955: Moody's Mood For Blues
  • 1956: Moody's Mood for Love
  • 1956: Hey It's James Moody
  • 1959: James Moody (Argo Records)
  • 1959: Flute 'n' the Blues
  • 1962: Another Bag (Argo)
  • 1963: Comin' On Strong (Argo)
  • 1965: Cookin' the Blues
  • 1969: The Blues and Other Colours
  • 1969: Don't Look Away Now
  • 1973: Feelin' It Together
  • 1997: Moody Plays Mancini (Warner Bros. Records)
  • 1999: James Moody And The Swedish All-Stars Concord
  • 2004: Homage

As sideman

  • Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra - Live at the Royal Festival Hall (1989) Moody solos on "Kush" and "Night in Tunisia"
  • 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)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "James Moody (saxophonist)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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