Moody's Mood for Love

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For the James Moody album, see Moody's Mood for Love (album).
"Moody's Mood for Love"
American Jazz Standard by James Moody
Writer Eddie Jefferson
Composer James Moody

"Moody's Mood for Love" is a 1952 song by Eddie Jefferson, whose melody is derived from an improvised solo by jazz saxophonist James Moody on a 1949 recording of the 1935 song "I'm in the Mood for Love".[1] It gained widespread popularity after being recorded in 1954 by singer King Pleasure. It has since been covered by many artists. Moody himself adopted the song as his own, recording it with Jefferson on the 1956 album Moody's Mood for Love and often singing the song himself in concert.


James Moody created his improvised solo in 1949 on a visit to Sweden. Moody’s version clearly shows the influence of Charlie Parker.[2] In 1952, jazz singer Eddie Jefferson wrote lyrics to this improvisation by Moody, a practice known as vocalese.[3] This particular arrangement of the song did not come to be known by its now common title of "Moody's Mood for Love" until King Pleasure released a very popular vocal version in 1954.[4] Following King Pleasure's successful hit version of "Moody's Mood for Love", Jimmy McHugh, who wrote the music for "I'm in the Mood for Love", sued for copyright infringement and won a partial victory in court. He and Moody eventually agreed to share the proceeds on sales of any versions of the tune.[5] King Pleasure's version included vocals by Blossom Dearie as well as instrumental contributions from Teacho and Band.

The lyrics are often incorrectly attributed to King Pleasure because he was the first to record it. However, some sources report that when Pleasure was asked to write more lyrics to solos he confessed that he had not written this one. He had heard Jefferson perform it in a jazz club some years before and asked permission to reproduce it. James Moody later hired Jefferson to come on the road with him. Jefferson also appears on several recordings with Moody.


Although "Moody's Mood for Love" was not the first vocalese song, it helped bring that music form to a much wider audience. Most notably, it helped start the career of vocalese pioneer Jon Hendricks. Hendricks was sitting in a café when the King Pleasure recording of "Moody’s Mood" came on the jukebox. According to Hendricks, he had been writing “unpopular” songs for some time, but when he heard the recording and realized that it was a saxophone solo with words he decided to change his approach to songwriting. “I didn’t have to stop at 32 bars. Now I could write lyrics for all the parts in the orchestra.” He went on to collaborate with the singer and arranger Dave Lambert and the singer Annie Ross to form the group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. The group multi-tracked their voices and recorded the album Sing a Song of Basie in which they sang lyrics by Hendricks to the full arrangements of the Count Basie Orchestra (Ross singing all the trumpet parts, Hendricks singing the saxophone parts and Lambert singing the trombone parts). With the exception of a small rhythm section, all 13 horn parts were reproduced by the three voices dubbed over.

Cover versions[edit]

Artists who have recorded the song include:

In 2006, American Idol contestant Elliott Yamin performed the song. His version appears on the album American Idol Season 5: Encores. This version just missed the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number one on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.

Other artists who released renditions of the song include George Benson, Tito Puente, Kermit Ruffins, The Guess Who and Georgie Fame. The Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys featured the song. The song also has been featured on an episode of The Cosby Show, as well as in an early 1990s Gap television commercial.


Hip hop artist Prince Paul sampled the song as the basis for the track "Mood for Love" on his album A Prince Among Thieves (1999).[9]


  1. ^ Luebbert, David. "I'm In The Mood For Love". SongTrellis. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  2. ^ Tyle, Chris. "I'm in the Mood for Love (1935)". Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  3. ^ Kurtz, Alan. "King Pleasure: Moody's Mood For Love (aka I'm In The Mood For Love)". Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  4. ^ "James Moody Biography". The Musicians Guide. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  5. ^ Milkowski, Bill (March 2004). "James Moody: Playing with the Changes". JazzTimes. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  6. ^ "Moody's Mood For Love - Take Six, Brian McKnight and Patti Austin". Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  7. ^ "Rising Sun overview". 
  8. ^ "E-Card Najee". Heads Up International. 
  9. ^ Smith, Dinitia (April 12, 1999). Guiding Hip-Hop Toward Operatic Leaps; Prince Paul Imagines a Movie as He Makes Rap Relevant for the Suburbs. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-08-25.


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