James Moody has been an institution in Jazz since the late '40s, whether on tenor, flute, occasional alto or yodeling his way through his 'Moody's Mood for Love.'
Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 26, 1925, and raised in Newark, New Jersey, James Moody took up the alto sax, a gift from his uncle, at the age of 16. Within a few years he fell under the spell of the deeper more full-bodied tenor saxophone after hearing Buddy Tate and Don Byas perform with the Count Basie Band at the Adams Theater in Newark, New Jersey.
In 1946, following service in the United States Air Force, Moody (as he prefers to be called) joined the seminal Bebop Big Band of Dizzy Gillespie, beginning an association that - on stage and record, in orchestras and small combos - afforded a young Moody worldwide exposure and ample opportunity to shape his improvisational genius. The encouragement of the legendary trumpeter-leader, made his mark on the young saxophonist.
In 1949 Moody moved to Europe where in Sweden he recorded the masterpiece of improvisation for which he is renowned, 'Moody's Mood for Love.' He returned to the States in 1952 with a huge "hit" on his hands. In 1963 he rejoined Gillespie and performed off and on in the trumpeter's quintet for the remainder of the decade.
Moody moved to Las Vegas in 1973 and had a seven year stint in the Las Vegas Hilton Orchestra, but eventually Jazz called and he returned to New York and put together his own band again - much to the delight of his dedicated fans. In 1985, Moody received a Grammy Award Nomination for "Best Jazz Instrumental Performance" for his playing on Manhattan Transfer's 'Vocalese' album, thus setting the stage for his re-emergence as a major recording artist.
Whether Moody is playing the soprano, alto, tenor, or flute, he does so with deep resonance and wit. Moody has a healthy respect for tradition, but takes great delight in discovering new musical paths, which makes him one of the most consistently expressive and enduring figures in modern Jazz today.