March 26

James Moody

March 26, 1925 - Savannah, Milledgeville

The man had sax appeal: tenor, alto, and soprano.

James Moody, born in Savannah in 1925, began playing the saxophone at 16, despite being hard of hearing. After an Army Air Force hitch in World War II, he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, mastering and helping create the complex, challenging new jazz called be-bop. His sax solo version of “I’m in the Mood for Love” was re-recorded with lyrics as “Moody’s Mood For Love” by King Pleasure in 1954 in the vocalese style that involved adding words to an instrumental. It was a monster hit, and became Moody’s standard.

Moody traveled many musical roads over the course of his 50-year career; he received four Grammy nominations, the Kennedy Center’s Living Jazz Legend Award, and appeared in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, set and shot in his hometown. He won a posthumous Grammy in 2010.

The man who recorded “Savannah Calling” to honor his birthplace was born on March 26, 1925, Today in Georgia History.