I drove 17 hours to 2009 Savannah Jazz Festival. When I got to my sister’s house, I told her I needed to be at Blowin’ Smoke. She said, “Not before you have something to eat” I argued for a few minutes, but it was a losing battle. I got my stuff in the house and had a sandwich, then we were off to the venue.
When we arrived, the kickoff jam session had been going on for over an hour. I can’t even begin to tell you about the energy under that tent, it was pretty awesome! My sister introduced me to a few people and those people introduced me to other people. They also pointed out some people. One of the people that was pointed out was Jody. I went right up to him and introduced myself to him. Right away, I could tell he was a class act, not yet knowing who he was. Afterwards, I went back to the table and enjoyed the show.
A little while later, I took Gilda out of her case and told the man in charge what I wanted to play. I didn’t know much at all, at that time, I was comfortable with a blues in F. I ended up on stage with Jody and another man named, Roosevelt. I had know idea what was going on. The tune they played was a tune I had never heard of. I had only been playing for a year at this time. I was up there doing my best Milli Vanilli impression. Jody saw I was struggling, and in between breaths, he was telling me what to do. I couldn’t quite grasp what he was talking about at that moment. Then the solos started! There was no way in hell I was going first. Roosevelt had told me how nervous he was. I was very surprised, because he was awesome!! We were obviously coming from 2 different worlds. I was next. All I wanted to do was leave, but Jody told me what to do, as if he knew I wanted to walk away, right there on the stage. So, I did, the best that I could. I could not wait to get off that stage!
Later on, I talked with him and he was so encouraging. He said I should learn “Sonny Moon for Two”. I learned it that week. It is a pretty simple melody, solos are open to interpretation. So I learned it. I went back everyday of the festival to play “Sonny Moon” but could not get up on stage for the rest of the week.
Jody encouraged me to learn a few standards and then, the next year (if I came down) maybe I could get up there and play a tune. Well, I went home from the Jazz Festival and gave a 30 day notice and moved back to Savannah. I saw Jody was playing at Blowin’ Smoke on the 2nd Friday after I moved back. I went there to see his show. He was amazing! During his break, he came over to talk to me. I was quite surprised that he remembered me. He asked if I had my horn and I said “Yes.” He told me to get it and he would get me up there. Howard Paul, of Benedetto Guitars
was also up there, and he had a show a the Jazz Festival also. Jody asked me what I wanted to play. I told him, “Sonny Moon for Two” That is what we played. I couldn’t believe I was playing with these guys! It was an amazing experience!
Jody came to the Square one day to play with ME! I couldn’t believe it when I saw him hustling across the way. That also was an amazing experience! We played together for about 40 minutes to an hour. Any words he spoke, came from his heart and was said with love and respect.
Since the 2009 I have not been back on the stage for the jam sessions, but Jody has invited me on HIS stage a few times. Every time has been a pleasure and an honor. Like I said, he is a class act. I have seen him outside of the music realm also, and he always has time to talk. Every word that comes out of his mouth is said with love and sincerity. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for him. He may not know it, but he is kind of a mentor to me. He gave me a challenge well over a year ago, and I have still not done it. I am not sure I want to do it. That is between him and me.
Anyway, the reason I wrote this post is because, in a world with corporate giants and nobody having the time to give someone the time of day, this man does. He is a family man, a friend, a mentor, a teacher and a world class Jazz musician. I should also mention he owns a mouthpiece factory. If you play clarinet or saxophone please, do yourself a favor and check mouthpieces at http://www.jodyjazz.com/
I actually bought a Jody Jazz mouthpiece a year and a half before I met him. I didn’t know that is who he was until later. Thank you Jody for guidance, patience and support.