My parents were huge music buffs but were bigger concert goers than record buyers. One of the few records my Mom had besides the West Side Story and Funny Girl soundtracks was Moody’s Mood For Love. I’m talking the 78. She’d play it to death and knew every word. And she’d sing along with it. It was actually quite joyful in a childhood that wasn’t always such. So as a little kid, to me James Moody was bigger than Ellington, Basie, Sarah, Ella, etc. because- hey- Mom actually bought the record!
So when I got older and started to go to live shows- first with my parents and later on my own (My Dad died when I was 20)- I saw that James Moody was making a return to live gigs under his own name after working in Vegas for quite a while. It was an actual NYC concert- not a club date. And it was packed and electric. THE RETURN OF JAMES MOODY the program proclaimed. It felt like an event and it was. From his powerful and poignant playing to his colorful singing, it was incredibly memorable. It’s among my top 10 greatest live jazz memories for sure.
That night he graciously signed everything in front of him and I still have that program. Later I’d see him perform live again and even had the honor of interviewing him on my radio show.
It’s been a few days now that he’s gone and I still haven’t had the heart to tell my Mom.
For I know what he and that song meant to her- and to me as well.
“James Moody would you come on hit me, you can blow now if you want to, we're through…”