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PITTSBURGH JAZZ

 

From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.

 

Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?

 

Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.

 

For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.

 

Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.

 

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Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin

    MARY LOU WILLIAMS     

            INTERVIEW

       In Her Own Words

I know many of you have met Mr. Moody over the years. I did on many occasions when he would come for the Pitt Jazz Seminar. I enjoyed talking to him and loved to hear his stories. We will miss this giant of a man.

**

For over six decades, saxophone master James Moody has serenaded lovers with his signature song Moody's Mood for Love an improvisation on the chord progressions of I'm in the Mood for Love.


Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 26, 1925, and raised in Newark, New Jersey, James Moody took up the alto sax, a gift from his uncle, at the age of 16. Within a few years he fell under the spell of the deeper more full-bodied tenor saxophone after hearing Buddy Tate and Don Byas perform with the Count Basie Band at the Adams Theater in Newark, New Jersey.


In 1946, following service in the United States Air Force, Moody joined the seminal bebop big band of Dizzy Gillespie, beginning an association that - on stage and record, in orchestras and small combos - afforded a young Moody worldwide exposure and ample opportunity to shape his improvisational genius. Upon joining Gillespie, Moody was at first awed, he now admits, by the orchestra's incredible array of talent, which included Milt Jackson, Kenny Clark, Ray Brown, Thelonius Monk. The encouragement of the legendary trumpeter-leader, made his mark on the young saxophonist. His now legendary 16-bar solo on Gillespie's Emanon alerted jazz fans to an emerging world-class soloist.


During his initial stay with Gillespie, Moody also recorded with Milt Jackson for Dial Records in 1947. One year later he made his recording debut as a leader James Moody and His Bop Men for (Blue Note).


In 1949 Moody moved to Europe where in Sweden he recorded the masterpiece of improvisation for which he is renowned, Moody's Mood for Love.


Returning to the States in 1952 with a huge "hit" on his hands, Moody employed vocalist Eddie Jefferson. Also, working with him during that period were Dinah Washington and Brook Benton.


In 1963 he rejoined Gillespie and performed off and on in the trumpeter's quintet for the remainder of the decade.


Moody moved to Las Vegas in 1973 and had a seven year stint in the Las Vegas Hilton Orchestra, doing shows for Bill Cosby, Ann-Margaret, John Davidson, Glen Campbell, Liberace, Elvis Presley, The Osmonds, Milton Berle, Redd Foxx, Charlie Rich, and Lou Rawls to name a few.


Moody returned to the East Coast and put together his own band again - much to the delight of his dedicated fans. In 1985, Moody received a Grammy Award Nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance for his playing on Manhattan Transfer's Vocalese album thus setting the stage for his re-emergence as a major recording artist.


Moody's 1986 (RCA/NOVUS) debut Something Special ended a decade-long major label recording hiatus for the versatile reedman. His follow-up recording, Moving Forward showcased his hearty vocals on What Do You Do and his interpretive woodwind wizardry on such tunes as Giant Steps and Autumn Leaves.


Music is more than a livelihood to Moody, so much so that portions of Sweet and Lovely, dedicated to his wife, Linda, figured prominently in the saxophonist's wedding ceremony on April 3, 1989. As well as being on the album, Gillespie was best man at the wedding for his longtime friend. The bride and groom walked down the aisle to Gillespie's solo on Con Alma then everyone exited the church to the vamp on Melancholy Baby. As their first act of marriage Linda and James Moody took communion accompanied by the groom's recording of Sweet and Lovely. In 1990, Moody and Gillespie received a Grammy Award Nomination for their rendition of Gillespie's Get the Booty, which showcases scatting at its best. Moody returns the soprano sax to his woodwind arsenal on Honey, his nickname for his wife, Linda, and Moody's last recording for (RCA/NOVUS).


On March 26th, 1995 Moody got the surprise of his life with a birthday party in New York. It was an evening of historical significance for Jazz with many guest stars and Bill Cosby as the emcee. It can be heard on Telarc's recording, Moody's Party-- James Moody's 70th, Birthday Celebration, Live at the Blue Note.


In 1995 Moody's (Warner Bros.) release of Young at Heart, was a tribute to songs that are associated with Frank Sinatra. With an orchestra and strings many people feel this is among the most beautiful of all James Moody recordings.


Moody's last recording for Warner Bros. is Moody Plays Mancini which showcases Moody on all of his horns and flute. A tribute to the American icon Henry Mancini.


Moody's 2004 release of Homage on the Savoy Label has been a great cause for celebration. His first new studio album in 6 years, the aptly named Homage is a tribute to Moody featuring new tunes specially written for him by the likes of Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Kenny Barron, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, David Hazeltine and Marc Copland. Bob Belden produced the project.





Whether Moody is playing the soprano, alto, tenor, or flute, he does so with deep resonance and wit. Moody has a healthy respect for tradition, but takes great delight in discovering new musical paths, which makes him one of the most consistently expressive and enduring figures in modern jazz today.

**


James Moody RIP
March 26, 1925 - December 9th 2010
85 Years Young!!
Gone too soon and the Love of Linda's Life
The World has Lost a very Special Person - We will all miss and love you forever Sweet Moody - The Heavens needed another Star today...

The family suggests a donation to Moody's Foundation
In lieu of flowers
CFNJ James Moody Jazz Scholarship Fund for Newark Youth
Post Office Box 338
Morristown, New Jersey 07963-0338

**
December 9th 2010

Dear Friends,
My sweet, darling, precious husband died today at 1:07 PM after a 10 month fight with Pancreatic Cancer. Because my greatest wish was to ensure that Moody transitioned peacefully and quietly we have been at San Diego Hospice and Institute for Palliative Medicine since last Monday. With their help my wish was granted. I feel so grateful for the privilege of being this amazing man’s wife for almost 22 years. I learned so much from this beautiful gracious, kind person. The most important lesson being how to participate unconditionally in the most amazing love affair one could possibly imagine. Moody had two goals. One, to go to a special friend’s wedding on 10/10/10, and two, to see his great-grandson born on October 22nd. He made both of those goals and even came to Thanksgiving dinner long enough to tell the family how much he loved all of them. We have a very close, very loving family and Moody has made such a difference in our lives.

God has put people in our lives that have presented amazing gifts to us medically and personally. Moody and I have felt love all around us since we started this journey last February. I want to thank Moody’s internationally acclaimed surgeon, Dr. Babs Moossa, who has been our Angel and stood by us constantly since Moody was released from the hospital last May. Dr. Moossa has always given us the best advice and been there for all of Moody’s needs.

Many of you have met Dr. Jerome Robinson and his wife, Pamela on the Jazz cruises. They have been the reason Moody’s heart has kept ticking for the last 15 years. I wish to thank them for their wonderful friendship and going above and beyond for Moody’s care. Pam and Jerome are very special people.

Thank you to Dr. Charles Kossman, Moody’s oncologist, who has seen us through this last faze of my husband’s life. Dr. Kossman is a very kind, loving man and completely supported Moody’s decision not to have treatment and enjoy the time he had left.

I want to acknowledge Moody’s wonderful, caring Hospice Team; Yvonne, Al, Jack and Mindy, who were always there when we needed them.

Thank you to all the friends and Moody fans who have sent thousands of well wishes on Facebook, e-mail and cards to my precious husband. He was astonished at the outpouring of love.

A public service will be held on Saturday, December 18th. There will be a morning viewing at Greenwood Memorial Park, 4300 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, 92113 and graveside service at 12:30 PM. Then at 2 PM, there will be a celebration of Moody’s life at Faith Chapel, 9400 Campo Rd in Spring Valley, 91977, officiated by Pastor Charlie Gregg, who married us almost 22 years ago.

Thank you so much for your love and concern,

Mrs. James Moody (Linda)

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