In 1946, following service in the United States Air Force, Moody joined the seminal bebop big band of Dizzy Gillespie, beginning an association that – on stage and record, in orchestras and small combos – afforded a young Moody worldwide exposure and ample opportunity to shape his improvisational genius. Upon joining Gillespie, Moody was at first awed, he now admits, by the orchestra’s incredible array of talent, which included Milt Jackson, Kenny Clark, Ray Brown, Thelonius Monk. The encouragement of the legendary trumpeter-leader, made his mark on the young saxophonist. His now legendary 16-bar solo on Gillespie’s Emanon alerted jazz fans to an emerging world-class soloist.
James MoodyDuring his initial stay with Gillespie, Moody also recorded with Milt Jackson for Dial Records in 1947. One year later he made his recording debut as a leader James Moody and His Bop Men for (Blue Note).