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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Welcome to the Beginner and Intermediate TOTM for June 2021! For this month I have chosen 'Mood Indigo', a classic from the Duke Ellington songbook.

The tune was written in 1930 by Ellington and his clarinetist in the early years of the Ellington orchestra, Barney Bigard. In his autobiography Bigard recalled that he was given part of the tune by his old teacher Lorenzo Tio. He worked on it further and then took what he had to a recording session where Ellington added the final touches. The tune became immediately popular, but Bigard was left rueing the fact that the sheet music was published under the names of Ellington and his manager, Irving Mills, a ruthless businessman and also a music publisher! He recalled "I missed the boat for twenty eight years on royalties. I didn't get a dime. It was all under Ellington and Mills' name. You see in those days - just to show how stupid we were - we would write a number and sell it to Mills for twenty five or fifty dollars. If we had kept the numbers with our names on we would have had royalties for years and years."

I have included C, Bb, and Eb charts, and also a link to a backing track I made with BIAB. There are also a few other backings available online.

https://soundcloud.com/user-826011730%2Fmood-indigo-backing
Here are a few great versions, including the original Ellington recording when the tune was titled 'Dreamy Blues'. Also a later Ellington TV performance featuring Paul Gonsalves on tenor.


The tune was so popular that Irving Mills eventually wrote lyrics for it, though it is probably more likely to have been done by some anonymous writer in his employment! Here are versions from Frank and Ella

Ella Fitzgerald - Mood Indigo [1957]

I hope these versions inspire you all, and I am really looking forward to hearing what you can come up with this month!

Bill
 

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Great choice, Bill!
 

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Tenor: Eastman 52nd St, Alto: P. Mauriat 67RDK, Soprano: Eastern Music Curvy
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Very happy to have this tune and you hosting Bill! I'll add it to the index later today when I return to my desktop computer.
 

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I have updated the index to include this thread here:


Again, can't wait to get started on this one!
 

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Very nice take Bill and a good pick. :)

This medium swing tempo works very well. You kept the playing and mood nice and relaxed, with a tasteful solo and good sound. If I could make one point of attention: you played many short phrases of 1 or 2 bars long. It would increase the overall swing feel (especially in the solo part) if you would play also some longer phrases, or start or stop them not exactly in the beginning or end of a bar, but let them flow over or into a next bar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi Peter,

Thank you for those kind words and constructive comments - they are much appreciated.

I take your point entirely about extending my lines. I have received exactly the same comment from my online tutor! It seems that at this very early stage of ‘improvisational development’ my brain is working so hard just to think of the right notes to fit the chords that I find I am completely exhausted mentally after a bar or two, and then need to pause to collect my thoughts! Anyway, it is something that I am aware of and working hard to improve with further practice - along with all the other things I need to work on!

Bill
 

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Fully understand that Bill. :)

A part of learning to improvise is - besides all the technical stuff - to not be afraid to play wrong notes (sometimes they work out well and if not, nobody got ever killed by playing a wrong note!) and also to trust your ear. That last point can be achieved by listening a lot to the song and get the chord sequence sound wise into your ears (so hear and feel were the important changes are).
 

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Here is my old quick and dirty version of September 2017:

Peter, let me say one word... impressive. Killing vbrato at start (instantly noted). Then... simply crazy drive from the bottom of the player's gut. What else we need? :)
 

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Ok - to get the ball rolling here is my first effort.

https://soundcloud.com/user-826011730%2Fmood-indigo
Bill, very good. Nice development toward the end. I have no doubt, that if you'll spend more time on this tune, something like jam on it for an hour for 5 days, you'll come with something absolutely NICE.
Don't take it as advice if it looks too much/crazy... I just know that there are some tunes that I can spend a lot of time without realizing how long I play it and have fun.

Why I am saying that because I remember your different works here on TOTM and different results.
Best.
 

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Peter, let me say one word... impressive. Killing vbrato at start (instantly noted). Then... simply crazy drive from the bottom of the player's gut. What else we need? :)
Thanks Michael. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Fully understand that Bill. :)

A part of learning to improvise is - besides all the technical stuff - to not be afraid to play wrong notes (sometimes they work out well and if not, nobody got ever killed by playing a wrong note!) and also to trust your ear. That last point can be achieved by listening a lot to the song and get the chord sequence sound wise into your ears (so hear and feel were the important changes are).
That is very good advice Peter. I definitely suffer from Wrong Note Phobia, and I am sure that this is another contributing factor in my stop-start solos! I'll try to loosen up and start embracing the odd 'clunker' here and there in the interests of advancing my soloing abilities!

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Bill, very good. Nice development toward the end. I have no doubt, that if you'll spend more time on this tune, something like jam on it for an hour for 5 days, you'll come with something absolutely NICE.
Don't take it as advice if it looks too much/crazy... I just know that there are some tunes that I can spend a lot of time without realizing how long I play it and have fun.

Why I am saying that because I remember your different works here on TOTM and different results.
Best.
Thanks Michael,

I agree with you completely. My usual contributions to the forum are recorded after working on the given tune for a few weeks at my leisure. By comparison, this particular effort was recorded in a bit of a hurry in order to get a posting up asap, as I feel that the forum's host should lead by example! Anyway, I intend to take your advice and relax and fool around with the tune over the next week or two and try and post something a bit better later in the month.

Bill
 

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That is fantastic Peter!

A great sound and so much soul. Thank you very much for sharing that with us!

Bill
Thanks Bill. :)

My recording actually has an example of using wrong notes because of ear playing, but correcting it by landing on the correct chord directly after that. Check the lick starting at 2:02, at 2:04-2:05 you hear the wrong notes, but the lick starting at 2:06 makes all fit again!
 

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Thanks Bill. :)

My recording actually has an example of using wrong notes because of ear playing, but correcting it by landing on the correct chord directly after that. Check the lick starting at 2:02, at 2:04-2:05 you hear the wrong notes, but the lick starting at 2:06 makes all fit again!
"When you hit a wrong note it's the next note that makes it good or bad". Miles Davis
 
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Just a note: if you are playing along with Duke, it's up a whole step from the key of the provided backing track. That is, it's in Bb concert (C for tenor/sop and G for alto/bari). I think the Sinatra version is in Ab maybe, but the Duke versions (including with Louis Armstrong) are in Bb. I might dig around for a backing track that has it in Duke's key.
 
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