Long time Dizzy Gillespie Tenor Sax man has left us…
Here Moody tells the story behind his Classic, “Mood for Love”
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’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, as “a titan of our music.” He also praised Mr. Moody as “just impeccable, his musicianship, his soul, his humor.”
Mr. Moody first achieved prominence in 1946 as a member of bebop trumpet icon Dizzy Gillespie’s 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, “Moody’s Mood for Love,” in 1949. An ingenious interpretation of the 1935 ballad “I’m in the Mood for Love,” 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.
“Moody’s Mood for Love” was elected into the Grammy Awards’ Hall of Fame in 2001 and has been recorded by such diverse artists as Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Rod Stewart, Queen Latifah, Tito Puente and 2006 “American Idol” contestant Elliott Yamin.
“ ‘Moody’s Mood for Love’ is a national anthem,” said longtime Moody fan and confidante Bill Cosby, who in the 1980s sang a duet of the song with jazz vocal star Nancy Wilson in an episode of “The Cosby Show,” his hit TV series. Cosby also prominently featured the song in his 2004 feature film, “Fat Albert,” which came as a surprise to Mr. and Mrs. Moody when Cosby had them attend the film’s premiere.
In addition to praising Mr. Moody’s artistic excellence and tireless devotion to jazz, Cosby credited the jazz legend for being a personal role model.
“He has taught me integrity, how to express love for your fellow human beings, and how to combine and contain manhood and maturity,” Cosby told the The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Here is an original cut from “Moody’s Mood”-