Jazz luminary James Moody died earlier this month in his adopted hometown, San Diego. Moody – whose final public performance was last January in Seal Beach, died on Dec. 9 of pancreatic cancer. He was 85.
Four years ago, Moody played at USC in tribute to his mentor Dizzy Gillespie and a 1956 US State Department-sponsored tour of South America.
An all-star lineup joined USC’s Thornton Jazz Band at a packed Bovard Auditorium: John Faddis on trumpet and Lalo Schifrin on piano. They played Dizzy Gillespie compositions his band performed on the 1956 diplomatic tour, including “A Night in Tunisia” with James Moody on saxophone.
Quincy Jones was the 1956 tour’s musical director. During the question-and-answer session he paused to thank Moody for helping him out in lean years during which, Jones said, he was more broke than the Ten Commandments.
"With my profound love and affection and gratitude for James Moody, please give it up for him," Jones said. "James Moody, this man, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Moody."
Jones produced three separate recordings of Moody’s signature composition “Moody’s Mood for Love” - with Aretha Franklin, George Benson and Brian McKnight. That more than repaid the generosity, Moody told the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Quincy is always talking about what I did for him," Moody said. "Well, if you come to San Diego and see Linda, my wife, our home, you’ll see that from Linda’s doing, selling some of her property and from 'Moody’s Mood for Love' that Quincy recorded about a thousand times for me, I came out pretty good."