The New Yorker
3 28 2005
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Instrumental virtuosos aren’t always a serious lot; James Moody delivers warped one-liners and surrealist anecdotes as easily as he does serpentine bebop lines on the saxophone and flute. A fleet alto saxophonist and a pensive soprano player, Moody produces his most significant work when he turns to the tenor sax. On that horn you can hear all that he’s absorbed, from his days as a featured soloist in Dizzy Gillespie’s late-forties big band, in Moody’s own funky ensembles of the fifties, and back with Dizzy again as an integral component of the trumpeter’s small group in the sixties. Since then, he has continued to investigate the improvisational byways of modern jazz. Moody’s here all week, celebrating his eightieth birthday with a few friends. Opening night, March 22, finds him in the company of Cubop, which unites the saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and the legendary conguero Ray Barretto. March 23: Moody is joined by the vocalist Roberta Gambarini and the trumpeter Roy Hargrove. March 24: The trombonist Slide Hampton, the trumpeter Claudio Roditi, and the saxophonist Frank Wess sit in. March 25: Moody, along with the saxophonists Nathan Davis and Quamon Fowler, plays the music of Grover Washington. March 26: The producer George Wein is the m.c. for the evening. Expect special guests. March 27: The pianist Kenny Barron closes things out.