In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington

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In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington
Studio album by Johnny Mathis
Released 1990
Recorded February–June 1990[1] at
Petersham Church,
Petersham, London,
Evergreen Studios,
Burbank, California[2]
Genre Vocal[3]
Length 54:42
Label Columbia
Producer Mike Berniker[2]
Johnny Mathis chronology
In the Still of the Night
In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington
Better Together: The Duet Album
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[3]

In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington is an album by American pop singer Johnny Mathis that was released in October 1990 by Columbia Records[1] and continues the studio album pattern that began with The Hollywood Musicals and In the Still of the Night in which the song selections adhere to a specific theme or focus.

This is the first Mathis album whose release did not include the LP record format, which was discontinued earlier in the year.[4]


As Mathis looked back at the vocalists that he admired the most, such as Nat King Cole and Lena Horne, he felt that some of their best performances were evoked from the music of Duke Ellington. "'I wanted,'" he said, "'to make an intimate, close, hands-on portrait of this great man and his great music. And I wanted to get it right -- to keep that feeling alive in a way that was completely honest and true.'"[2]

Several elements came together to provide that feeling that Mathis was seeking for this project, one of the more blatant examples being the trumpet work of Bill Berry, a one-time member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. There were, however, production factors to work around, especially with regard to the fact that the vocal track was not going to be recorded separately. "The London Symphony players that we wanted were only available to us five days in the morning at 10 o'clock."[5] This created a different type of recording schedule for Mathis. "I had to get up at 5 or 6 AM just to get my voice in some kind of shape to sing that early. But there was such a warm, wonderful feeling... even at that hour of the morning -- that I knew we were making the right decision."[2]

The original takes from these sessions were used for about half[2][5] of the tracks on the finished product. Mathis explained, "'I wanted to get some first, second and third takes with the orchestra because of the wonderful sound from this church in Petersham.'"[5] The latest technology allowed him to complete the vocal tracks back in the US. "'I sang four or five back here. They use an amazing computer that can match the sound and the timbre of the room.'"[5] The greatest challenge of this particular music, however, was left to the singer. "'I've sung Ellington's music in the past,'" he said. "'It was hard to sing then, and to this day it's still very difficult music. But it rewards the effort–oh, does it ever reward the effort.'"[2]


Although the album did not make it onto Billboard magazine's Top Pop Albums chart, Allmusic's Dave Nathan writes in his review that "the music remains as absorbing and enticing as if it were arranged by Ellington himself."[3] He says regarding Mathis that "he has lost none of that special taste and phrasing which made his records consistently favored by a wide segment of the listening public,"[3] and, "He still delivers each song with emotional intensity and personal intimacy."[3]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Overture – A Musical Tribute to Duke Ellington" (Byron Olson) – 2:16
  2. "Lush Life" (Billy Strayhorn) – 4:15
    • Byron Olson – arranger
  3. Medley – 4:47
    a. "Don't You Know I Care (Don't You Care I Know)" (Mack David, Duke Ellington)
    b. "I Didn't Know About You" (Duke Ellington, Bob Russell)
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  4. "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" (instrumental) (Mercer Ellington, Ted Persons) – 1:17
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  5. "In a Sentimental Mood" (Duke Ellington, Manny Kurtz, Irving Mills) – 4:05
  6. "What Am I Here For" (Duke Ellington, Frankie Lane) – 4:22
    • Bill Berry – trumpeter
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  7. "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)" (instrumental) (Duke Ellington, Paul Francis Webster) – 1:43
  8. "Something to Live For" (Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn) – 3:37
    • Ronnie Ross – baritone sax soloist
    • Byron Olson – arranger
  9. "Solitude" (Eddie DeLange, Duke Ellington, Irving Mills) – 3:40
    • Byron Olson – arranger
  10. "Perdido" (instrumental) (Ervin Drake, Hans Lengsfelder, Juan Tizol) – 1:05
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  11. "Prelude to a Kiss" (Duke Ellington, Irving Gordon, Irving Mills) – 2:52
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  12. "In a Mellow Tone" (Duke Ellington, Milt Gabler) – 3:19
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  13. "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" (Duke Ellington, Bob Russell) – 3:16
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  14. "Satin Doll" (instrumental) (Duke Ellington) – 1:07
  15. "Come Sunday" (Duke Ellington) – 3:24
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  16. "Do Nothing till You Hear from Me" (Duke Ellington, Bob Russell) – 4:39
    • Brad Dechter – arranger
  17. "Caravan" (instrumental) (Duke Ellington, Irving Mills, Juan Tizol) – 0:54
  18. "Day Dream" (Duke Ellington, John La Touche, Billy Strayhorn) – 3:26
    • Byron Olson – arranger

Song information[edit]

Four of the songs that are featured in this set only appeared on the sales charts in Billboard magazine as instrumental recordings by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, with "Solitude" reaching number two in 1934; "In a Sentimental Mood", number 14 in 1935; "Perdido", number 21 in 1943; and "Satin Doll", number 27 in 1953.[6] Another four were also instrumental hits by the Orchestra but also had vocal versions make the chart, quite often at the same time. The earliest of these, their number four hit from 1937, "Caravan",[7] is the one instance where the song became a hit for the vocalist much later, with Billy Eckstine's recording reaching number 14 on the magazine's list of the most popular R&B hits of the week[8] and number 27 on what was then called the Best Seller chart in 1949.[9] The Orchestra's rendition of "Prelude to a Kiss" went to number 18 in 1938,[7] while Johnny Hodges & His Orchestra went to number 13 that same year with Mary McHugh on vocal.[10] "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" was a number two Best Seller hit for The Ink Spots after debuting in the magazine in January 1943,[11] and the Orchestra's 78 from 1940 was reissued after this surge in popularity and got as high as number eight in sales later that year[12] in addition to spending three weeks at number one R&B.[8] Another Orchestra reissue from 1940, "Do Nothing till You Hear from Me", enjoyed eight weeks as the top R&B disc[8] in addition to peaking at number six on the magazine's weekly list of the songs Most-Played in Juke Boxes in 1944.[9] The reissue's newfound success coincided with the first chart appearance of any vocal version of the song, which Woody Herman took to number four R&B[13] and number seven Juke Box.[14]

The Orchestra had vocal accompaniment on two of the original hits that Mathis is covering: Ivie Anderson joined them on "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)", which they made a number 17 Best Seller in 1942, and Al Hibbler sang "Don't You Know I Care (Don't You Care I Know)" with the Orchestra, which they took to number 10 R&B in 1945.[8] Another pair were only hits for other artists: Charles Barnet & His Orchestra reached number eight R&B with "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" in 1942,[15] and Count Basie & His Orchestra's recording of "I Didn't Know About You" reached number 21 in sales in 1945 with Thelma Carpenter on vocal.[16]



  1. ^ a b (1993) The Music of Johnny Mathis: A Personal Collection by Johnny Mathis [CD booklet]. New York: Columbia Records C4K-48932.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g (1990) In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington by Johnny Mathis [CD booklet]. New York: Columbia Records CK 46069.
  3. ^ a b c d e "In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington - Johnny Mathis". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "In a Sentimental Mood: Mathis Sings Ellington - Johnny Mathis - Releases". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Zimmerman 1990, p. 51.
  6. ^ Whitburn 1986, pp. 148–149.
  7. ^ a b Whitburn 1986, pp. 148.
  8. ^ a b c d Whitburn 2004, p. 185.
  9. ^ a b Whitburn 1994, p. 56.
  10. ^ Whitburn 1986, p. 214.
  11. ^ Whitburn 1986, p. 223.
  12. ^ Whitburn 1986, pp. 149.
  13. ^ Whitburn 2004, p. 253.
  14. ^ Whitburn 1994, p. 79.
  15. ^ Whitburn 2004, p. 47.
  16. ^ Whitburn 1986, p. 47.


  • Whitburn, Joel (1986), Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories, 1890-1954, Record Research Inc., ISBN 0898200830 
  • Whitburn, Joel (1994), Joel Whitburn's Pop Hits, 1940-1954, Record Research Inc., ISBN 0898201063 
  • Whitburn, Joel (2004), Joel Whitburn Presents Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles, 1942-2004, Record Research Inc., ISBN 0898201608 
  • Zimmerman, Keith (30 November 1990), "Mathis Meets Ellington", The Gavin Report: 53