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Bebop Star James Moody Brings ‘Moody’s Mood For Love’ to the Berrie Center at Ramapo College

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)September 21, 2001

(Mahwah) – Bebop legend James Moody, best known for his masterpiece, “Moody’s Mood for Love,” will make a rare North Jersey appearance Friday, October 12 at 8 p.m. in the Sharp Theater at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Lifelong friend Dizzy Gillespie said, “Playing with James Moody is like playing with a continuation of myself.”

Born in Savannah, GA and raised in Newark, Moody took up the alto sax, a gift from his uncle, at the age of 16. A few years later, impressed by saxmen Buddy Tate and Don Byas of the Count Basie Orchestra, he switched to the full-bodied tenor saxophone. Following his discharge from the U.S. Air Force in 1947, Moody joined the influential BeBop big band of Dizzy Gillespie. During that time, he recorded with trumpeter Howard McGhee and vibist Milt Jackson for dial Records. A year later he made his recording debut as a leader using players from the Gillespie band.

In 1949, Moody moved to Paris, where during a record date in Stockholm, Sweden, he recorded the hit for which he is best known, “Moody’s Mood for Love.” The song became a huge instrumental hit in the United States. Then the vocalese version, sung by King Pleasure, became a hit too. He returned to the United States in 1951 and, as leader of the influential James Moody Septet, toured with Dinah Washington, integrating jazz and rhythm and blues. The 1950s also saw Moody recording several albums as a flautist. He was one of the first bebop saxophonists to embrace the flute.

Moody’s prolific career hit a roadblock in 1958, when a devastating fire at The Blue Note Club in Philadelphia destroyed his band’s instruments, uniforms and arrangements. That, coupled with a series of other events led Moody to check himself into Overbrook Hospital in Cedar Grove, NJ. After six months of rest, he headed for Chicago and recorded the inspirational album, Last Train From Overbrook.

In 1963, Moody rejoined Gillespie performing in the trumpeter’s quintet for the remainder of the decade. In the 1970s he worked in show bands in Las Vegas. His career received a boost in the mid-’80s with a Grammy Award nomination for his solo on Manhattan transfer’s Vocalese album. He also recorded Something Special, Moving Forward, Sweet and Lovely and Honey during that decade for the Novus/RCA label.

In the ’90s he teamed up again with his lifelong friend Dizzy Gillespie to tour Europe and the United States as a member of the famous United Nations Orchestra, whose live recording at The Royal Festival Hall in London received a Grammy for Best Jazz Big Band Release.

In 1995 Telarc released Moody’s Party, a live recording of his 70th birthday celebration at the Blue Note in New York City. In 1996, Moody released his first album for Warner Brothers Records, the romantic Young at Heart. His 75th birthday was celebrated at Avery Fisher Hall in New York on April 3, 2000 with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis and many guests, such as Slide Hampton, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross, Jon Faddis, Kenny Barron, Janis Siegel and Bill Cosby.

Moody remains one of the most sought after artists for master classes, workshops and lectures, because, not only does he inspire young talent through his high standard of musicianship and positive outlook on life, but also through his ability to communicate his experiences in and around the jazz world.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $10 for students with a valid I.D. The Sharp Theater is located in the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts on the Ramapo College campus. For information or to order tickets, call (201) 684-7844.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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