Moody-Inspired Fan Devotes Life to History of Jazz
Jazz Is Freedom. You Think About That." -Thelonious Monk
By Stan Lee Special to jazzstage.net
That's what jazz brings to me. I have friends with whom I want to share this joy of artistry that started with me in 1986. That's the purpose of this project on jazz history. I started with the birth of jazz from the early years of ragtime music. This project of jazz history will continue as a chronology all the way to today's young lions of jazz.
This is how jazz started with me. I will reflect on the history of the club named Joe & Wayne's Jazz Showcase, of which I have been a patron for more than 25 years.
The Jazz Showcase has been in Chicago since 1947 and is one of the longest running jazz clubs in America. I was invited to the Jazz Showcase when I was 19 by jazz veteran saxophonist James Moody. I met James Moody at Chernin's shoe store in Chicago. James and I were purchasing the same pairs of shoes. I have always been fascinated with photography and music, because my father was a blues musician and always carried his camera with him when I was around 8 years old.
At 19 there was an exhibit at a gallery in Chicago on a photographer named Herman Leonard. I read an article on him and had seen one of his photos, which was breath-taking to me. I went to the exhibit and was in awe of his works.
James Moody by Herman Leonard
Herman photographed these great luminaries of jazz with the best light possible, which means no flash. After the exhibit I purchased a $45 book at 19 years of age and enjoyed every page. I was wondering to myself what jazz sounds like after looking at this great exhibit on jazz musicians.
Months later in a shoe store I noticed a gentleman next to me that looked familiar. He was James Moody, one of the musicians in the jazz book of Herman Leonard, photographed in 1951. I walked up to him and asked was his name James"? He said yes," but asked me James who"? I replied James Moody." He was puzzled that this young kid knew him.
I told James I recognized him from a photo taken of him in 1951. James was in awe of this. He asked me had I ever seen a live jazz performance. I answered, no I have not." James asked if I would like to be his guest at the Jazz Showcase, where he was going to perform that night. He also thought the shoes I was purchasing were cool, and asked, could he purchase a pair too, like them. I said cool." We laughed.
James also said I could bring a guest to the jazz club, and so I brought a girlfriend who was a few years older than I. My date was fascinated that I knew of a place like this. And me being the ham, I went along with being hip and cool.
I been in love with jazz every since that encounter with James Moody and the performance I witnessed that night at the Jazz Showcase."
This music, jazz, is so prolific for the listener, yet is not being supported by the people. The dragon of the music industry has made a reappearance with its hammer and nails, to nail the coffin closed on jazz. We cannot let this happen to a great art form.
Joe & Wayne's Jazz Showcase has been showcasing some of the heavy hitters of jazz with local, artistic musicians displaying their workmanship on their instruments. My only regret is that I didn't get to share this story with James Moody, who passed last year.