In the mood for laughter

JAZZ James Moody, Ronnie Scott's

James Moody doesn't so much wear his heart on his sleeve as wrap it up in a big ribbon and pass it out among the audience for them to feel as he plays. An emotional man, whose generous size and grey flecked beard incline to the Falstaffian, Moody is happy and he wants you to know it. Indeed, you have no choice in the matter, as he tells you about his blissful third marriage and how the love of a good woman and the Bahai faith (the same denomination as his late employer Dizzy Gillespie) have transformed him. Transformed him from what, he doesn't say, but Moody, who is now a remarkably spry-looking 71, has had his share of demons in the past, in the time-honoured jazz tradition.

50 years ago, he was a vital force in the most revolutionary big band ever, when, straight from service in the air force, he joined Gillespie's be-bop orchestra, touring Europe and recording inspired arrangements where the crazy-paved structures of bop were mixed with the Latin rhythms of the legendary percussionist Chano Pozo. He then became the hippest saxophonist of his time, when his first ever recording on alto sax, a version of "I'm in the Mood for Love", became a big jukebox hit. It became hipper still when the disc jockey King Pleasure added words to Moody's improvised solo, in the bop-vocalese fashion of the times.

Moody long ago claimed the Pleasure version as his own and he sings it at least once in every set. At Ronnie's, it sounded, as ever, sublime. But Moody's singing doesn't stop there. Despite the handicap of a lisp, he loves to sing nearly as much as he loves to talk, and his current show is a kind of cabaret-cum-stand-up-comedy routine. Some of the comedy is a bit desperate (the likes of "Jamaica?" "No, she came of her own accord," are not far away) and serves as a reminder that Moody spent a long exile in Las Vegas, but he's such a nice man that the audience are very indulgent. They are also very loud, taking the license granted by a star who actually acknowledges their presence as a cue for levels of chat that Ronnie's normally shushes.

But Moody can still play a bit too, and his versions of "Night in Tunisia", Jobim's "Wave" (which he plays beautifully on flute) and, of course, "Mood for Love" are expertly done. As a vocalist he may not be Frank Sinatra, the vocalist his new album Young at Heart (WEA) is dedicated to, with Moody lisping along like Tweetie-Pie on a truly bizarre version of the title track, but he's a good old boy for all that.

8.30pm, tonight, Frith St, London, W1 (0171-437 5081)

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea