James Moody

Interview in Jazziz Magazine, Feb. 2004

Music is a peculiar business. After a 60-year career that includes superb work with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles davis, Max Roach, and Thelonious Monk, and more than 50 albums to his name, saxophonist and flutist James Moody is still best known for "moody's Mood for Love", his brilliant 1949 improvisation on "I'm in the Mood for Love", which became a hit in 1952. Born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 26, 1925, and raised in Newark, New Jersey, he served in the U.S. Air Force before moving to Europe in the 1940s. He worked for seven years in the Las Vegas Hilton Orchestra in the 1970s and currently lives in San Diego with his wife Linda.

What makes you swing?
God and a good rhythm section.

Favorite movies?
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Ed. Note: in which he played a small but memorable role) and anything about flying saucers and aliens.

Favorite books?
Any book by Michael Moore, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:A Fair and Balanced Look at The Right by Al Franken; The Twelfth Planet by Zacharia Stichin.

Favorite television programs?
We love Bill Cosby reruns. We watch a lot on the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel.

What's your favorite ride (car or otherwise)?
Linda and I bought Benny Carter's Rolls Royce, so right now that's my favorite ride. But my car is a Mercedes 380SLC, which I love. It's small and just right for me to drive around to do errands for my wife.

When and where were you happiest?
Here and now. Anywhere I am with my wife, Linda, I am happiest. I love our life together; I love our home, and our family is wonderful to be around. And we have a very precious grandson named Ryan. I can't get enough of him.

What sport moves you?
Any martial arts.

Guilty Pleasure?
Chocolate cake, for sure.

War - what is it good for?
War is good for another war. It's a shame that the men who start the wars aren't the ones who fight them. I'm sure that everyone knows what I mean. War begets war.

Who do you invite to your last supper, and what's on the menu?
My ideal last supper for lively conversation and debate would include former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, Paul Hindermith, Albert Einstein, Michael Moore, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Camille and Bill Cosby, the great civil rights leader and historian W.W. Law, Zechariah Stichin, my manager Ina Dittke, Dizzy Gillespie, and my family. The menu would be very healthy. Soup, salad, vegetables, and broiled chicken, ending with a huge piece of chocolate cake.

The most important lesson you've learned?
My mother always taught me to take a person as an individual and to give love. My mother also always told me that no one in this world is better than I, but by the same token I am not better than anyone else. the second lesson would be something that dizzy always said: "Looks are deceiving."

What does "jazz" mean to you?
The most important thing in my life is my wife Linda, and then comes jazz. Jazz lifts me emotionally and spiritually, as does she.

To what do you attribute your musical longevity, and do you have any advice for musicians in that area?
I'm just happy that people like what I do. "Moody's Mood for Love" has been a big factor. People still ask for it on ever gig. I have been blessed. I couldn't possibly advise anyone else except to say PRACTICE.

Do you ever tire of the improvising, touring, and performing?
It gets old if you don't practice. Touring is wonderful. I've been blessed to see most of the world and have many dear friends everywhere.