James Moody

1951-1954

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Back in New York after three years spent gigging and recording in Europe, a mature and rejuvenated James Moody resumed the endless North American scuffle to get by as a contemporary jazz musician. Volume five in the Classics James Moody chronology presents 16 rare Mercury recordings made between October 1951 and June 1953, followed by eight Prestige titles from January and April, 1954. The first four tracks feature baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne; high points include the rowdy, bristling "Moody's Home" and "Wiggle Waggle," an R&B rocker that sounds like something right up out of the King record catalog. Beginning with the material recorded on May 21, 1952, Moody is heard leading a group largely composed of players who, like him, had worked in Dizzy Gillespie's big band. Two of these individuals -- trumpeter Dave Burns and baritone saxophonist Numa "Pee Wee" Moore -- show up regularly in the front line of Moody's excellent recording ensembles between 1952 and 1955. Special mention should be made of pianist Sadik Hakim as well as hip vocalists Iona Wade, Babs Gonzales, and the amazing Eddie Jefferson, who also served as Moody's band boss and road manager. If the Mercury titles are uniformly excellent, early modern jazz, James Moody's 1954 Prestige recordings, particularly his gorgeous rendition of "Over the Rainbow" and the breathtakingly vivid, dangerously danceable "Mambo With Moody" are enduring masterworks that warrant repeated listening.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:09
2
3:02
3
2:47
4
2:34
5
2:38
6
3:08
7
2:29
8 2:54
9
2:42
10
3:03
11 2:33
12
2:34
13
2:28
14
2:29
15
3:15
16
3:05
17
3:25
18
2:49
19
3:19
20
3:14
21
3:02
22 3:09
23
2:44
24
4:10
blue highlight denotes track pick