Thursday, January 7, 2010

James Moody: Moody 4A

IPO Recordings
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 1.7.10
Buy CD: Moody 4A

James Moody, reed player par excellence, is 84 years old and still swinging.

He began with an alto sax at age 16; after hearing the Count Basie band's reed section, Moody switched to tenor. He joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band after World War II, and that was the start of something Big.

It's difficult to find any jazz icons with whom Moody hasn't worked, or any jazz labels for which he hasn't recorded. Like many other African-American musicians who decided it was more pleasant to live in Europe than the United States during the post-war years, he spent several years in France and Sweden, finally returning home in 1952.

His instrumental arsenal had grown to encompass the entire reed family, including flute; many believe that he's the most proficient on flute.

Moody isn't a “honker”; no matter what instrument he chooses, his tone is clean and smooth, and is inventiveness is unsurpassed. As a result, he has been a member of bands supporting major stars such as Dinah Washington, Ann-Margaret, Elvis Presley, The Osmonds and many others, in addition to being a first-call sideman for any jazz group you could name.

Moody's quartet on this album includes another icon, Kenny Barron, on piano; they're joined by bassist Todd Coolman and drummer Lewis Nash. Only three of the eight tracks can be classified as jazz standards; the rest are covers of wonderful old tunes such as “Stella by Starlight” and “Bye Bye Blackbird.”

The result is joyful proof that some senior-senior citizens still can make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

No comments: