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From the creative to the sublime

Newhall’s James Moseley’s journey has taken him on a ride from music and a Grammy nod to fashion and

Posted: December 13, 2008 8:48 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Jim Moseley holds a couple of his CDs. He was nominated in 2007 for the "Album of the Year" Grammy.

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Life has many curves to maneuver your way through, but the circular route traveled by Newhall's Jim Moseley seems more like Lombard Street than most people's experiences.

Moseley, 42, a musician by training, a clothing designer by love of the craft and an insurance man by necessity, went full circle by playing trombone on a jazz CD in 2005 with Roger Williams and the London Philharmonic.

"Playing trombone with Mr. Williams and the London orchestra was as big as you could get," Moseley said.

"It was an exhilarating, overwhelming experience. What was even more special was that the musicianship was so strong, we knocked out a song per hour. This was nice because the group cost about $30,000 per hour."

Williams, a multi-honored pianist from Omaha, Neb., had recorded "Autumn Leaves" in 1955. It became the only piano instrumental to reach No. 1 on Billboard magazine's popular music charts. In 1967, he had another Top 10 hit with the title theme to the film "Born Free." He has gone on to create more than 50 albums with his signature piano sound.

The recording of that extraordinary 2005 musical session, "James Moseley with Roger Williams and members of the London Philharmonic," was released in 2006 and Moseley went on with his life, raising his two children and working on his Kaptain Leather Bubble Design line of clothing.

Then, something happened no one expected - the record was chosen by the 2007 Grammy Awards Committee as an official ballot finalist for Album of the Year, competing with such artists as Kanye West, Amy Winehouse and Bruce Springsteen.

To make matters ever more special, Moseley's alter ego, "The Bone Man," was also nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Shake Your Bubble" and Best Short Form Video for "Story Book Life."
Despite the nominations Moseley was more interested in dressing lifetime honoree Sly & the Family Stone in his designs for the Grammy telecast.

The "Album of the Year" title eventually was bestowed to the controversial Dixie Chicks album, "Taking the Long Way," but for Moseley the recognition was more than anyone involved ever expected.

Moseley had parlayed his musical connection by designing a line of bubble leather gear that has been worn by such luminaries as Keith Richards, Ringo Starr and David Letterman, among others.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Moseley, the son of a Missouri congressional candidate, developed a love for music at an early age, playing the piano by age 5 and the trombone by age 12. After his father died, he dived into the art, playing various gigs around his Kansas City hometown and was accepted into the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory of Music while still in high school.

An audition with the Dixieland Jazz Band at Disneyland brought him out West, where he eventually stayed.
When music opportunities became few and far between, he earned his insurance license and took a job at MetLife. He eventually made his way into the company's Million Dollar Roundtable before starting his own company.

"When I made enough money to survive in the hard times, I turned my attention back to music," he said.
"I was also fortunate enough to play with artists like Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Count Basie, Grover Washington Jr., and (jazz saxophonists) Gerald Albright and Eric Marienthal, among others."

He also performed at former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sargent Schriver's 80th birthday in Maryland.

"When I was given a CD of Jim with Roger Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra it brought back fond memories," said Schriver's wife, Eunice Kennedy. "While sitting with Jim on the piano while he was warming up for his performance, I tried to convey the significance of him playing on this particular piano. It was my brother Jack's and he always kept it with him even while he was in the White House. As a matter of fact, the entire family enjoyed playing it. Jackie and the President often sat together playing simple but delightful duets and it wasn't unusual to find John-John on his lap trying to find the right keys.

"Jim certainly had no problem finding the right keys while performing ‘Rhapsody in Blue,' but then when it came time for the family to just have some musical fun he broke out his horn and led us through a rendition of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.' That's what music is all about. Just having fun and allowing your senses to just plain enjoy."

Moseley also worked in Las Vegas and San Francisco and other areas, as well with the Crystal Cathedral Symphony Orchestra in Garden Grove. That group played every Sunday on the televised "Hour of Power" with the Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller, and through that association, he met Williams. By this time, Moseley had sold his insurance company and was working on his clothing line. After meeting the famed pianist he pitched the idea of a jazz album to him.

"We worked out a deal with the Philharmonic and then Roger, Gerald and Eric joined in," he said. The CD contains some easy listening classics such as "Somewhere in Time," "Beauty and the Beast," "Alone Again, Naturally," "The Rose," "Down By The Riverside," "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Medley: On a Clear Day/Over the Rainbow/Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," among others.

An original song written by Moseley, "Find My Way to You," is also included in the album.

The CD is due to be re-released in 2009 by his new record distribution company, Rocket Science. Moseley is expected to get back into the studio post-haste.

"I can't wait," he said. "I had such a wonderful experience and have had such a wonderful life. The Grammys were just a small part of that. I am so very blessed."

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