Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sad News, Another Jazz Giant Passes Away ...James Moody Dies at 85

This had happened before.

Once, when living in Los Angeles, and the 24-hour jazz radio station, KKGO, as I awoke, was playing a very long set of Willie Bobo's music, and I knew that had to mean that Willie, who had been ill, passed away.

So, the night-before-last, Jazz With Bob Parlocha comes on at midnight with a set of James Moody's music and that eerie feeling hung in the air, soon confirmed by Parlocha that James Moody, the Sax and Reed player extraordinaire, had passed away, at age 85.

I was fortunate to have seen Moody perform, live, numerous times, and it was always a treat, be it his own band, or if he was a sideman in someone elses.

It was reported that Mr. Moody had pancreatic cancer and chose not to go through the cumbersome treatment (radiation or chemo) and that sounds like how he lived his life, taking things head on, learning as he went along, always trying to be better.

And, thanks to a lark of Moody, playing around with the harmonic structure of 'I'm In The Mood For Love", we have, for posterity, a tune named after Moody, written by the late singer, Eddie Jefferson, and a big hit for King Pleasure;

The song he sang most often had a memorable name and an unusual history. Based on the harmonic structure of “I’m in the Mood for Love,” it began life as an instrumental when Mr. Moody recorded it in Stockholm in 1949, improvising an entirely new melody on a borrowed alto saxophone. Released as “I’m in the Mood for Love” (and credited to that song’s writers) even though his rendition bore only the faintest resemblance to the original tune, it was a modest hit for Mr. Moody in 1951. It became a much bigger hit shortly afterward when the singer Eddie Jefferson wrote lyrics to Mr. Moody’s improvisation and another singer, King Pleasure, recorded it as “Moody’s Mood for Love.”
“Moody’s Mood for Love” (which begins with the memorable lyric “There I go, there I go, there I go, there I go ...”) became a jazz and pop standard, recorded by Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Van Morrison, Amy Winehouse and others. And it was a staple of Mr. Moody’s concert and nightclub performances as sung by Mr. Jefferson, who was a member of his band for many years. Mr. Jefferson was shot to death in 1979; when Mr. Moody, who was in the middle of a long hiatus from jazz at the time, resumed his career a few years later, he began singing the song himself. He never stopped.
Here's Moody singing the tune himself;

And, here's the King Pleasure classic;

Here's Moody, with Dizzy, performing Dizzy's "Kush"

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