December 11, 2010 / 12:00 AM / 8 years ago

Jazz great James Moody dies of cancer, age 85

Saxophonist James Moody performs next to bass player Nathan East during the Quincy Jones 75th Anniversary celebration gig at the 42nd Montreux Jazz Festival July 14, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jazz saxophonist James Moody, a master of improvisation who was best known for his “Moody’s Mood for Love,” has died in San Diego after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 85.

Moody died on Thursday at the San Diego Hospice and Institute for Palliative care, where he had been since earlier this week, his wife Linda Moody said in a post on his website.

“I feel so grateful for the privilege of being this amazing man’s wife for almost 22 years. I learned so much from this beautiful gracious, kind person,” Linda Moody said.

Born in Georgia and raised in New Jersey, Moody became one of the greats of American jazz. He played with Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and B.B. King, and was nominated for four Grammy Awards, the U.S. music industry’s highest honor.

Moody began recording in the late 1940s after serving in the military during World War Two, and he continued to write and perform music well into the 2000s.

He played both alto and tenor saxophone as well as flute, and he was best known for his “Moody’s Mood for Love,” an improvisational version of popular 1930s song “I’m in the Mood for Love.” But Moody recorded more than 60 albums.

Later in life, he performed with his James Moody Quartet, and in 2007 The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., gave Moody its Living Jazz Legend Award.

Moody is survived by his wife and family. A public memorial service will be held in San Diego on December 18. More information can be on his website at

Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Eric Walsh

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