James Moody was born in Savannah, Georgia on March 26, 1925. His family moved to Newark New Jersey, because Georgia school system wanted to put him in a retarded school. Just because he was partially deaf. Moody did not like to be called James he like just Moody. His uncle gave him a alto sax as a gift, when he turned 16. A couple of years later Moody went to see the Count Basie Band at the Adams Theater in Newark, New Jersey. After hearing Buddy Tate and Don Byas perform he fell under the spell of the full-bodied tenor saxophone.
Moody join the US Army Air Corps in 1943, he played in the Negro band on a segregated base. When he was discharged from the military in 1946 he played be-bop with Dizzy Gillespie for two years. In 1948 he recorded with Blue Note Records, that same year he relocated to Europe. Moody lived there for three years. He said he was “ scarred by racism”. While over in Europe he recorded “Moody’s Mood for Love”. On this recording he added the alto sax to his repertoire and this established him as recording artist.
Moody was a part of the growth of European jazz. Moody was sued by Jimmy McHugh the original author of “I’m in the Mood for Love” for copyright infringement and lost. Moody and Jimmy eventually agreed to share the proceeds on sales of any version of the tune.
Some of the artist who recorded their own versions of the tune were King Pleasure in 1954, Van Morrison, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, Tito Puente, Kermit Ruffins, The Ray Gelato Giants, Amy Winehouse and George Fame. Quincy Jones in 1995 released a multi harmony version of the track on his Q’s Jook Joint album featuring my all time favorite Take Six in collaboration with Brian Mcknight. The Jersey Boys musical featured the song and it was also feature on a episode of The Cosby Show. Moody in
2005 established the Moody Scholarship Fund at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College- SUNY-State University of New York.
James Moody passed on, on December 9, 2010 from complications of pancreatic cancer. I never got to see James Moody in person, but listening to his music is truly a joy. Moody your up there with the greats now continue to blow your horn. You will be missed, but his music will live on.