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Mood Indigo

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Lulu Scully

on 17 March 2014

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Transcript of Mood Indigo

Three Moods Indigo
Nina Simone's Mood Indigo
This arrangement of
Mood Indigo
was performed by Nina Simone. This version is from her 1966 album “Let It All Out”. At this time, Ms. Simone was very involved in the civil rights movement. Her arrangement is very fast, unlike Ella Fitzgerald’s arrangement. Ms. Simone is playing piano and singing and while the tune sounds at times like be bop, you can also hear swing in the way she plays. While Ms. Simone’s piano stays true to the melody, her contralto voice is very interpretive—she bends and holds notes, but also sings staccato and later allows her vibrato to come out. This version really catches the emotional range of the song, making you happy and sad at the same time.
Introduction to Mood Indigo
Rosemary Clooney's Mood Indigo
This arrangement of
Mood Indigo
was recorded in 1956 by Rosemary Clooney with Duke Ellington. One of the things that makes this arrangement unique is the instrumental portion. There is a large trumpet solo that occupies almost as much time as Ms. Clooney’s vocal part. In fact, the arrangement suggests that the vocals are not intended to be the featured part of the song, but are sharing the spotlight with the piano and trumpet. Ms. Clooney deviates from the original opening lyrics, beginning with “Always get that mood indigo,since my baby said goodbye.” In the introduction to her vocal part, she hums the traditional beginning “You ain’t been blue…” Ms. Clooney’s vocals are clear and resonant and this is the most straight forward approach (of the three) to the vocal melody.
Ella Fitzgerald's Mood Indigo
This arrangement of
Mood Indigo
was performed by Ella Fitzgerald and recorded in 1957. Unlike Rosemary Clooney, this arrangement has traditional accompaniment, but the vocal part is anything but traditional. This arrangement has a slower tempo, which allows Ms. Fitzgerald to bend and hold notes to emphasize her soulful approach to the song. At points, it almost sounds like blues. She improvises with some lyrics, but stays true to the lyrical structure of the song. Ms. Fitzgerald’s arrangement is rich and beautiful and may be the most popular version of the song.


Arrangement Similarities
by LuLu Scully
Mood Indigo is a 1930’s and 1950’s jazz standard. A jazz standard is a song that is very important to a jazz performer’s repertoire. Jazz standards are established tunes widely known by jazz listeners.

Mood Indigo was written by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard, with lyrics by Irving Mills. Mood Indigo was performed by Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Joe Jackson, and Rosemary Clooney.

However, I will be comparing the renditions of Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone.
All of these arrangements take a different approach to the song. Two of the arrangements, Ms. Fitzgerald and Ms. Simone's have original accompaniment. However, Rosemary Clooney’s version has a featured instrumental portion. Nina Simone’s arrangement is the most unique and much faster than Ms. Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald's arrangement. Ms. Clooney alters the lyrics the most, but Ms. Fitzgerald and Ms. Simone take a more interpretive approach to the vocal melody. Ms. Fitzgerald’s rendition features the vocal part more than the others. Perhaps Ms. Simone’s performance is the most impressive, because she is both playing piano and delivering the vocal part.
The arrangements are similar in many respects. They all stay close to the original melody written by Duke Ellington. They also all, to a certain extent, follow the original lyrics. They all have accompaniment, although in very different interpretations. All three versions have an introduction that recalls the “hook” of the song. In all three arrangements, the piano is the melodic anchor.
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