In the mood for laughter
JAZZ James Moody, Ronnie Scott's
Saturday 26 October 1996
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)
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove