“Last Train From Overbrook,” by jazz saxophonist and composer James Moody, starts off in chugging mode, and never lets up. It’s a brisk, almost bursting-at-the-seams instrumental, which makes sense, given the circumstances under which it was recorded.
Moody, who was raised in Newark and lived in the Newark area for much of his life, spent several months at the Overbrook psychiatric hospital in Cedar Grove in 1958; he was struggling with alcoholism, according to his 2010 New York Times obituary. In “Last Train From Overbrook,” you can feel the pent-up energy; he can’t wait, it seems, to get on with his life.
“Last Train From Overbrook” became the title track of an album Moody released in ’58. He had established himself as an important jazz artist before then, and remained a widely respected and much-loved performer for decades afterwards. When the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark created its ambitious jazz fest, three years ago, it named it the TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival. This year’s edition of the Moody fest just got underway on Sunday.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.