James Moody (1925-2010)
James and Linda Moody
Arne Domn√©rus, James Moody, Thorne Swanerud (Stockholm 1950)
Listen ||| James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Dizzy Gillespie
Forthcoming: Photo credits, plus Al Young’s “Moody’s Mood for Love,” the author’s prose-poetic tribute to James Moody, selected from Drowning in the Sea of Love (Musical Memoirs), 1996
A jazz giant passes: James Moody, 1925-2010
The San Diego saxophonist influenced and inspired several generations of fans and fellow musicians, including Quincy Jones, who hails Moody as “a national treasure”
By George Varga
¬© 2010 George Varga | San Diego Union-Tribune
Originally published December 9, 2010 at 2:36 p.m.; updated December 9, 2010 at 9:34 p.m.
Photo: K.C. Alfred
A gentle musical giant, James Moody touched countless fans around the world with his ebullient saxophone playing and tireless dedication to the art of jazz. We invite you to share your memories of Moody, and to tell others what he and his music meant to you.
James Moody, an international jazz star since 1949 and a San Diego resident since 1989, has played his last refrain. An acclaimed saxophonist, flutist, composer and band leader for 60 of his 85 years, Mr. Moody died Thursday at 1:07 p.m. at the San Diego Hospice, according to his wife, San Diego Realtor Linda McGowan Moody, who was by his side. His death came after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
“He couldn’t have gone more peacefully,” said Mrs. Moody, who on Monday had her husband moved from their San Carlos home to the San Diego Hospice.
Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis hailed Mr. Moody, with whom he had often collaborated at New York‚Äôs Jazz at Lincoln Center, as ‚Äúa titan of our music.‚ÄĚ He also praised Mr. Moody as ‚Äújust impeccable, his musicianship, his soul, his humor.‚ÄĚ
Mr. Moody first achieved prominence in 1946 as a member of bebop trumpet icon Dizzy Gillespie‚Äôs all-star big band. Noted for his ebullient stage persona and his ability to inject warmth and joy into even his most intricate compositions, Mr. Moody leaves behind one of the longest and most distinguished jazz careers in memory.
He recorded his best-known hit, ‚ÄúMoody‚Äôs Mood for Love,‚ÄĚ in 1949. An ingenious interpretation of the 1935 ballad ‚ÄúI‚Äôm in the Mood for Love,‚ÄĚ the title under which Mr. Moody’s recording was initially released, it features one of the most acclaimed saxophone solos in jazz history. It became a global vocal hit in 1954 for singer King Pleasure, who sang lyrics that were written for the song in 1952 by noted jazz vocalist Eddie Jefferson. Mr. Moody subsequently began singing it himself and performed it as his theme song at each of his concerts.