December 14, 2010

In the Mood for James Moody

At the Jazz WorkshopOn hearing of the recent death of saxophonist and flutist James Moody, many casual jazz listeners may be seeking out his music for the first time. One of my personal favorite albums of his is At the Jazz Workshop (GRP, 1961), recorded here in San Francisco, which I believe serves as a wonderful sampling of Moody's many talents. The recording is a live date that emphasizes the blues but also incorporates some fine ballad playing. The ensemble is a septet - Moody, Musa Kaleem (baritone saxophone), Howard McGhee (trumpet), Bernard McKinney (trombone), Sonny Donaldson (piano), Steve Davis (bass), Arnold Enlow (drums) - with Eddie Jefferson chiming in on three vocal numbers. The band plays with a terrific full sound and Moody is the featured soloist throughout, playing on alto and tenor sax as well as flute. Particularly fine tunes include the swinging "Bloozey," "The Jazz Twist," and "Bunny Boo." Ballads include "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "Round Midnight." And the album finishes with a remake of Moody's surprise hit "Moody's Mood For Love," with a playful vocal from Jefferson. Highly recommended.

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