James Moody (1925-2010)
James Moody, a jazz saxophonist, composer,
Moody was born partially deaf in Savannah to Ruby and James Moody on March 26, 1925, and grew up in Newark, New Jersey. He began playing music at the age of sixteen, after his uncle gave him an alto saxophone. Over the course of his career, Moody became an accomplished alto, tenor, and soprano saxophonist, as well as a flutist. In the early 1940s he served in the U.S. Air Force and played in an unofficial air force band. Near the end of his duty in 1946, Moody met Dizzy Gillespie and subsequently became a member of Gillespie's big band. He later performed in Gillespie's quintet in the 1960s and again in the 1990s.
Moody lived in Europe from 1948 to 1951. In
In both 1996 and 2000 the mayor of Savannah declared a James Moody Day, an honor also bestowed by Newark, Jersey; New York City; and San Diego, California. Moody also had a bit part in the 1997 film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was set and shot in Savannah. He played Mr. Glover, who appears in a scene with a leash and collar, walking what appears to be an imaginary dog.
By 2007 Moody had recorded more than fifty albums, including tributes to Frank Sinatra and Henry Mancini. That year he received the Kennedy Center's Living Jazz Legend Award, and his instrumental solo "Be-Bop" was nominated for a Grammy. He was nominated again in 2010 for his final album, Moody 4B.
Moody died of pancreatic cancer on December 9, 2010, in San Diego. Married three times, he was survived by three sons and one daughter.
Dizzy Gillespie, with Al Fraser, To Be, or Not—To Bop: Memoirs (New York: Da Capo Press, 1979).
Edward L. Harris, University of Georgia
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