Picture it 1949, Sweden. A former black soldier is improvising a tune based on I’m in the Mood for Love by Jimmy McHugh. Unbeknownst to him that his instrumental improvisation would become wildly popular. Upon returning to the states James Moody is asked to to sing and play the song that is now known as Moody’s Mood for Love. The lyrics to this tune weren’t written until 1952, two years later, by Eddie Jefferson.
What’s phenomenal about this tune is the story behind James Moody himself. He was drafted into a segregated WWII military and there learned to play the saxophone and flute. What’s more remarkable is that he learned to play the saxophone and flute, was drafted into the army, all the while deemed legally deaf! Mind you James Moody was an exceptional musician durning the late 50’s and early 60’s. Several artists sung the lyrics to this tune throughout that time period but James Moody never recorded a vocal session until later in his life. This TuneCrush follows last Friday’s TuneCrush nicely because James Moody developed his singing style later in life based in part on the stylings of last week’s artist-Leon Thomas.Hear the hour long interview Mr. Moody gave to Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz in 1997. Dizzy Gillespie gave James Moody his first professional gig as a musician in the late 40’s and early 50’s. He surprises Mr. Gillespie on stage and sings Moody’s Mood for Love: