Duke Ellington: Mood Indigo (1950)


Mood Indigo


Duke Ellington (piano)


Masterpieces by Ellington (Columbia/Legacy 87043)

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Duke Ellington (piano), Cat Anderson (trumpet), Harold 'Shorty' Baker (trumpet), Nelson Williams (trumpet), Fats Ford (trumpet), Ray Nance (trumpet), Quentin Jackson (trombone), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Tyree Glenn (trombone), Mercer Ellington (French horn), Russell Procope (clarinet), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet), Yvonne Lanauze (vocals), Wendell Marshall (bass), Billy Strayhorn (piano), Sonny Greer (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington, Barney Bigard and Irving Mills


Recorded: New York, December 18, 1950


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

The advent of the long-playing record finally released Duke Ellington from the time constraints that had previously forced him to slice and dice his creative output into three minute installments. In truth, Ellington had grown comfortable with short forms, and even when he wrote extended suites for his late vintage LPs, he tended to fill them with short vignettes of a few minutes duration. But for his first LP, Ellington revisited some of his earlier classics and fleshed them out into longer versions. His 15-minute version of "Mood Indigo" is a breathtaking reworking of a song Ellington had first recorded twenty years earlier. Here Ellington pulls out every trick in the book, taking this song all the way from Mood Infrared up to Mood Ultraviolet, and touching on every shade between. The whole track shines, but the avant-garde waltz restatement toward the close is about as good as big band writing can get. Fans who are looking for outstanding Ellingtonia from the 1950s should start here.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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