Bahai News - Charlie Parker Honored In Tribute at Caramoor July 30, 2000

Charlie Parker Honored In Tribute at Caramoor

Mr. Moody referred to Dizzy Gillespie, who pioneered the be-bop style in the late 40's with Parker. Mr. Moody, who played along side of Mr. Gillespie from 1946 until his death in 1993, was there when audiences crowded the clubs on 52nd Street in New York. Of all the talented musicians performing at this year's festival, Mr. Moody is the only one who played with Parker. On Saturday the festival celebrates what would be Parker's 80th birthday with the Sam Rivers Trio, which starts things off at 2 p.m. The Hilton Ruiz Trio with Chris Potter play at 3:15, Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron at 4:30; Paul Motian, Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell continue up to the 6:45 p.m. dinner break. The James Moody Quartet closes the tribute with an 8 p.m. concert.

Mr. Moody, who was born 75 years ago in Savannah, Ga., and raised in Newark, N.J., didn't take up the alto saxophone until he was 16. He played in a band during his time in the Air Force. He said he met Mr. Gillespie in Greensboro, N.C., where Mr. Gillespie was performing. After his discharge later that year, Mr. Moody joined Mr. Gillespie's band in New York; the group included Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson and Miles Davis.

In 1949, Mr. Moody moved to Europe, where he remained until 1952. He said he intended to overcome his problems with alcohol and Benzedrine while staying with relatives. He remained to take part in the lively jazz scene in Europe. ''I had no intention of returning because of the prejudice back home,'' said Mr. Moody. ''I came back because 'Moody's Mood' was a hit.''

''Moody's Mood for Love,'' which was recorded in Sweden, was Mr. Moody's improvisation on ''I'm in the Mood for Love,'' the popular standard written by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. It became Mr. Moody's signature song.

After his return, Mr. Moody performed and recorded with several jazz and pop musicians.

His latest recording is ''Moody Plays Mancini'' (Warner Brothers), which showcases Mr. Moody on all his horns and flute. He also recently landed his first acting role, appearing in Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of ''Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.''

Just as Mr. Gillespie taught Mr. Moody invaluable lessons more than 50 years ago, Mr. Moody teaches aspiring musicians through clinics. Mr. Moody said that young musicians have the advantage of quality jazz programs in several colleges and universities. That alone, however, isn't the key to success.

''The thing is, anyone can make it in music if they really want it,'' said Mr. Moody, who is Bahai and considers music a spiritual experience. ''When I was young, all I thought about was playing saxophone. If someone really wants to do something, God will provide.''

The James Moody Quartet performs on Saturday at 8 p.m., the closing day of the Caramoor Jazz Festival. Tickets are $40 a day. The box office can be reached by calling (914) 232-1252, or visit the Web site at

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