Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Moody's Swedish Pastries

The Great Moody and trumpeter Dave Burns watch a soloist during sessions at WOR Studios for the Blue Note album, "James Moody & His Modernists," Moody's first as a leader. That was in 1948. Photographer unknown

Sometimes an artist can have too much talent. Virtuosity can be a trap, creating a never-ending spiral of expanding expectations. The virtuoso's fans say, "Wow! That was amazing!" Then they say, "Amaze me again!" Each new performance brings expectations that have be exceeded to be met. And exceeded again. 

It seems like James Moody got caught early on in this cycle, at least in the recording studio. I have countless records of Moody blowing wild-and-crazy solos with nameless rhythm sections. It's usually the theme, five solo choruses, theme again and out on these sides. James was such an extraordinary soloist that record producers tended to just put him in front of a microphone and let him blow. There was little concern for the artist's development, for his interaction with the other players in the band, for moving the music forward. It's almost as though Moody became a trained seal, a novelty act.

Lars Gullin
Of course, defaming James' artistry by trivializing it as mere exhibition is more than a little elitist – and maybe even a little racist. This guy could play, and he had ideas to spare, at least when it came to filling a chorus. His fans knew it, and that's why his records sold like hotcakes – and why producers had him make endless more. The one place where Moody avoided this trap was, oddly enough, in Scandinavia. 

James Moody left the States in 1948 for Europe. He spent much of his time in Sweden, and there he found musicians sympathetic to the new music that he was playing. Stockholm had boppers like baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin, alto player Arne Domnerus and pianist Rolf Larsson, and they wasted no time getting into the studio with Moody for a series of very fine recording sessions. One of the tunes Moody tossed off during these dates was "I'm in the Mood for Love," which, as we all know, became the smash hit "Moody's Mood for Love" in the USA when King Pleasure got hold of it. 

Moody's Swedish sessions aren't too hard to find these days if you look, but when I was coming up they were like hens' teeth. That's why I was delighted to come across this posting's download. Vintage Prestige EPs are as rare as their counterparts on Blue Note, and almost as fervently sought. This one turned up in what I can only think was a former DJ's record collection, judging by how many promotional copies it contained. The records were all in well-used condition, but this Moody album was slightly better than most. I have cleaned up the sound, removing many clicks by hand, but CD quality it ain't. If you can stand a little hiss and an occasional click, I think you'll find this a very satisfying listen. And, of course, I don't need to say the files came from the original vinyl (although I just did!). Dig!

James Moody Favorites • Volume Two
Prestige PRLP 125

James Moody, ts, as, all selections, plus:

Rolf Larsson, p; Gunnar Almstedt, b; Anders Burman, d; unk. strings.
Stockholm, Sweden; January 25, 1951 
1. Cherokee

Lars Gullin, bar; Rolf Larsson, p; Gunnar Almstedt, b; 
Anders Burman, d.
Stockholm, Sweden; January 24, 1951
2. Hey! Jim (Moody’s Bounce)

Sixten Eriksson, tp; Lars Gullin, bar; Rolf Larsson, p; Gunnar Almstedt, b; Jack Noren, d.
Stockholm, Sweden; January 24, 1951
3. Moody’s Got Rhythm (Andrew Got Married)

Thore Swanerud, p; Yngve Akerberg, b; Sven Bollhem, d.
Stockholm, Sweden; October 18, 1949
4. Over the Rainbow

Leppe Sundwall, b tp; Arne Domnerus, as; Carl-Henrik Norin, ts; Lars Gullin, bar; Rolf Larsson, p; Gunnar Almstedt, b; Anders Burman, d.
Stockholm, Sweden; January 23, 1951  
5. Am I Blue

Personnel as 2.
6. Two Fathers (Two Feathers) 

Personnel as 5.
7. Again
8. Embracable You

Find it here:


  1. Great rip and sound, but rip to mp3 64 bit rate and only 22050 Hz is a bit lacking in quality, in my opinion.

    Thanks a lot, anyway.

    1. Agreed, Ramson. But I try to keep the files small-ish so the freebie download time is reasonable. If you want wav files of this offering, email me at and I'll ship 'em to you.

    2. Yes, but a rip to 128 bit rate and 41000 hz not is hard download for any user, I think.

      I really not need wav or flac files, a good mp3 with HQ settings (compression speed slow), 41000Hz and 256 or 320 or VBR bit rate is perfect (for mostly ears) in my opinion.

      Thanks anyway.

    3. Excellent suggestion, Ramson. In the future, I'll save the files with those settings. Hopefully that will improve the sound quality.

  2. 128 or 192 is ok for this sort of thing...

  3. great blog, thank you!

  4. Thank you so much for uploading these music!
    But one suggestion is..
    while you are at it, can you make sure that artworks, track numbers, and proper titles are used?
    I'm sure a lot of people prefer it that way, and your extra little work can make a lot of people happy and bring more people to your website :)
    Again, thank you very much, and hope you have a great day

    1. Yes, Danny, I can do that. As a vinyl man myself, I don't listen to music on an iPod or similar digital device where that info can be useful. But many people do, so I'll add those details going forward. Thanks for the suggestion -- I never really thought of doing that!