by Stella Cheung Houston
Got to see James Moody again! Just saw him in May
in Singapore! This time he was with some other giants Cedar Walton, Eddie
Marshall and Tony Dumas. Cedar Walton and Eddie Marshall were cover subjects
of past print issues of Jazz Now magazine.
It was a concert dedicated to Billy Higgins and Smith Dobson. At that particular concert, Joe Henderson was still alive.
I really appreciate James Moody announcing each piece. It helps me get the titles straight even though I had heard most of the tunes. It also helps us learn our standards or to remind us of the names of the tunes that we have appreciated for years and who the composers are so we can give them the credit that is due.
They started with "Once I Had a Secret Love." "Everybody knows that I had this secret love. I have had her for years. Just don't tell my wife." Moody quipped. All through the evening, Moody told jokes in between pieces, entertaining a mostly full auditorium on the Stanford University campus. He played the alto, tenor and flute. Oh what a treat to hear him play "Wave" on his flute, since my friends and I are learning to play that piece. His tenor solo on Cedar Walton's "Firm Roots" was explosive. Cedar did a marvelous rendition of "All the Things You Are." "Body And Soul" was in a Latin beat that made the piece less melancholy than the way Billie Holiday used to sing it, and it swung beautifully. All the while Tony Dumas presented supportive and solid bass lines. The piano solo on this piece was awesome. Cedar's improvisation just poured. Moody brought it down to earth, but let it soared again. Moody took a long cadenza on "Night in Tunisia," showing off his techniques and the beautiful tone of his alto. Yet there was no screaming or squeaking or ear-piercing sound. "Just to show you how BAD he really is!" Haybert, Jazz Now publisher said.
Eddie Marshall is still my favorite drummer, it was wonderful to watch him play. To hear drums so sensitively played is mesmerizing. How can one play drums so softly and unobtrusively even to the softly spoken bass, and yet keeping perfect time! His sticks and brushes danced on the instruments. It was so graceful! It seemed so effortless!
No doubt, these are masters. We are happy to be able to hear them live over and over again. Let's don't miss the opportunities. Moody told us that he will be seventy-seven at his next birthday! Thank you, Stanford for bringing them together for us.
by Stella Cheung Houston
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