The song of the day for Tuesday, April 30, 2013 is Mood Indigo, as we continue Duke Ellington Week here at the Year of Tony Bennett.
About This Song
Ellington wrote Mood Indigo in 1930, though the composition credits of the song is shared with Barney Bigard, who learned the tune from his clarinet teacher from New Orleans. The lyrics, attributed to Irving Mills, were likely written by Mitchell Parish.
In spite of this, there is no mistaking this as a classic Ellington song with unmistakable Ellington orchestrations. Mood Indigo was a big hit for Ellington, as well as a critical success. Compared at the time to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the song was named by NPR as one the top 100 American musical works of the 20th century and was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (Al Gioia, Jazz Standards, page 272).
About This Version
Today’s version comes from Tony Bennett’s 1999 album, Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool. The big band arrangement is by Ralph Burns and in addition to the fine work by the Ralph Sharon Quartet (with Paul Langosch [bass], Clayton Cameron [drums] and Gray Sargent [guitar]), this cut also features Wynton Marsalis on trumpet and Al Grey on trombone. This album is one of Bennett’s purest jazz recordings and this particular cut is certainly a great example of the nuanced jazz that Ellington was known for.
Mood Indigo, as well as the full Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool album, is available from iTunes.