Rifftides reader Peter Luce has a question:
I’m wondering if someone in Rifftides’ knowledgeable readership can help clarify some conflicting information I’ve read about Ellington’s used of trumpet, trombone and clarinet in the original recording of “Mood Indigo.” John Edward Hasse, in The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington, writes:
“Ellington turned on their heads the usual roles of trombone, trumpet and clarinet, assigning the trombone the high notes and the clarinet the low.”
Alyn Shipton in A New History of Jazz writes:
“Whereas in the traditional order of things, the clarinet would take the upper part, the trombone the lower, with the trumpet in the middle, [Ellington] assigned the highest notes to the muted trumpet, the central part to a muted high-register trombone, and the lowest notes to a clarinet in its deep chalumeau register.”
Both of these jazz historians agree that the clarinet was assigned the low parts, but clearly disagree on the trumpet and trombone. Can any of your readers shed any light?
We have in the audience arrangers, composers, musicologists and other listeners with big ears. Click the link above, listen, send your answers to Mr. Luce’s query and we will post them.