Sixty-two years ago today, saxophonist James Moody was in Paris with Miles Davis performing at the Festival International de Jazz. The May 1949 concert was held at Paris' Salle Pleyel and included Tadd Dameron on piano, Barney Spieler on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. Superb tenor-sax solos by Moody were heard on Allen's Alley (Wee) and Wahoo (Perdido). Photographer Paul Slaughter wasn't around back then, but he did take numerous photos of Moody through the years. [Photo of James Moody in 1997 at the Hive in Santa Fe, N.M., by Paul Slaughter]
I asked Paul to share his memories and photos of Moody:
"I've had the opportunity to photograph James Moody numerous times over the past 40 years. The first time was in 1969, when he and Dizzy Gillespie were performing at Howard Rumsey’s The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
"In 1975 I took one of my most cherished jazz photographs. I call it the "Three Treasures of Jazz”: James Moody, Sonny Stitt, and Dizzy Gillespie. All three were in Dizzy’s dressing room at the Hollywood Bowl. They were exchanging stories and having a great time being together. [Photo, from left, of James Moody, Sonny Stitt and Dizzy Gillespie in 1975 at the Hollywood Bowl by Paul Slaughter]
"Under such situations I try to be a fly on the wall with my camera. Note Stitt's extra long shirt collar, and the jazzy “in vogue” loud-print jackets worn by Moody and Diz.
"The first time I saw Moody perform was in 1968 when he and Dizzy were doing a gig at a Southern California college. At the time I was a disc jockey on KBCA-FM, a Los Angeles jazz station. I was the M.C. for the evening’s event. The audience was small, since the event’s producer had booked Dizzy on the same night the college was hosting a basketball tournament. [Photo of James Moody and Herbie Mann in 1997 at The Hive by Paul Slaughter]
"At one point, the producer took me aside and asked me to close the concert early. This concerned me since the group had only performed three numbers. Dizzy was standing at the back of the stage while Moody was doing a melodic flute solo.
"I caught Dizzy’s attention and told him about closing the show early. When Moody finished his solo Dizzy went to the microphone and told the audience there would be a short intermission. Dizzy found the producer and said, 'Where’s my check?' The producer said he didn’t have the money. Dizzy told him, 'You get me a check from the college Chancellor or I will see to it no union musician ever performs at this college.' [Photo of James Moody at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2007 by Paul Slaughter]
"Twenty minutes later the producer showed up with the requested check, and Dizzy finished the concert.
"For many years Bob and B.J. Weil presented jazz concerts at their 125-seat concert hall known as The Hive in Santa Fe. Every month, from spring to late fall, Bob booked top jazz talent like Herbie Mann, Howard Alden, Eddie Daniels, Cedar Walton and Harry “Sweets” Edison. [Photo of James Moody and Bob Weil at The Hive in 1997 by Paul Slaughter]
"In 1997 Moody played at The Hive. During a break in the concert I took Moody outside for photographs and was able to capture his smiling countenance relaxing in a chair. The Hive is closed now, but Bob continues to co-produce the annual New Mexico Jazz Festival held in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
"In 2007 I photographed at the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival. The Monterey Fairgrounds, home of the annual festival, was near the Hyatt Hotel where I was staying. It was Sunday and the hotel’s dining room was buzzing, packed with jazz musicians and fans enjoying breakfast. That morning the great band leader Gerald Wilson and his wife Josephina joined a dozen jazz photographers of the festival for a delightful breakfast. [Photo of Gerald Wilson and James Moody at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2007 by Paul Slaughter]
"We were getting ready for a group picture when I saw Moody and his wife Linda sitting in a nearby booth. When Moody recognized me, his face beamed. He got up and gave me a kiss and a bear hug. That's how Moody was." [Photo of James and Linda Moody at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2007 by Paul Slaughter]
Nat Hentoff wrote about James Moody in the April issue of JazzTimes. Go here.
All photos by Paul Slaughter. ©Paul Slaughter/all rights reserved. Photos used with the photographer's permission.
Paul's new book, Jazz Photographs 1969-2010, can be found here.
Want more PhotoStory? Scroll down the right-hand column of JazzWax to the "PhotoStory" heading. There you'll find links to the other posts in this series.