Correspondence, With Music: Moody Concerned

The Norwegian pianist, composer and bandleader Per Husby writes:

I’d like to share a little remembrance of mine of James Moody – from Oslo, Norway somewhere around 1990: I had been playing piano with Moody on some gigs at Per Husby.jpgthe Molde jazz festival in 1979, and had met him sporadically here and there after that. On this occasion in 1990 he had done a gig in Oslo with a Swedish rhythm section – and Moody had played fantastically as usual. I spoke to him in the interval, and he enthusiastically showed me a bunch of pictures of him and his wife – who was apparently half Norwegian.
It turned out that he had the next day off – so I took him up for lunch in a restaurant in the forest outside of Oslo, on a hilltop overlooking the city. He was really enjoying the meal, but at the same time he seemed to be bothered about something, so after a while I asked him what was the matter. He then looked almost frightened around him to ensure nobody was listening in (the place was nearly empty except for us) – leaned over towards me, and whispered very reluctantly with eyes still going left and right: 

”Per – I wanna ask you a question…. Do you think I thound old??” I do not remember what my answer was – because all I could think of was that here is one of the world’s leading saxophonists of all time sitting way out in the wilderness together with a local rhythm section pianist andMoody, earnest.jpg asking for assessment – from me, who had just experienced him being as fantastic as ever only the night before.

This little incident has stayed in my mind since then as a wonderful snapshot of the truly great, respectful and human soul James Moody represented.

For fun, I’m putting in a link to a little private clip from Molde in 1979 typical of Moody, where he – without any prior notice to us – goes into “Oop-Pop-A-Da” and even manages to get our trumpeter (who is a very soft-spoken person and surely never a vocalist at all) to join in some two-part scat harmony. For all its recording faults this cut, to me, represents jazz as entertainment on a high level – and also has some tenor playing going all the way back to his 1940s background.

Mr. Husby’s story was in a message to the Jazz Research Group. Rifftides uses it with his permission.
To see previous entries about Moody, who died on December 9, go here, then here.

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