“Mood Indigo” (1930) & (1955) is a jazz composition and song, with music by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard with lyrics by Irving Mills. The main theme was provided by Bigard, who learned it in New Orleans, Louisiana from his clarinet teacher Lorenzo Tio, who called it a “Mexican Blues.”
What makes the original recording(s) so interesting is the fact that Ellington has taken the traditional front-line of trumpet, trombone and clarinet, and turned them “upside down.” At the time of these first three recordings in 1930, the usual voicing of the horns would be clarinet at the top (highest pitch), trumpet in the middle, and the trombone at the bottom (lowest pitch). In “Mood Indigo,” Ellington voices the trombone right at the top of the instrument’s register, and the clarinet at the very lowest. This was unheard of at the time.