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I'm in the Mood for Love (1935)

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Origin and Chart Information
Perhaps the most famous version of the tune was waxed in 1949 by saxophonist James Moody on a visit to Sweden.

- Chris Tyle

Rank 195
Music Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics Dorothy Fields

This Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh collaboration was written for the Paramount motion picture Every Night at Eight and introduced by vocalist Frances Langford in the film. Although Langford’s recording made the charts, it was the disc by Little Jack Little that bounced into the number-one slot.

  • Little Jack Little and His Orchestra (1935, vocal, #1)
  • Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra (1935, vocal, #3)
  • Frances Langford (1935, vocal, #15)
  • Leo Reisman and His Orchestra (1935, Frank Luther, vocal, #18)
  • Billy Eckstine (1946, vocal, #12)

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

The songs for Every Night at Eight basically ended the successful collaboration between lyricist Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. The pair wrote one more song in 1935, “Lovely to Look At,” which was used in the film version of the Broadway musical Roberta, and they teamed up again briefly in 1947 for the first Radio City Music Hall production. Fields then paired up with veteran composer Jerome Kern and together they finished the music for Roberta. McHugh began a collaboration with Harold Adamson.


More on Dorothy Fields at JazzBiographies.com

More on Jimmy McHugh at JazzBiographies.com

McHugh and Fields wrote a total of six numbers for Every Night at Eight. “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “I Feel a Song Comin’ On” were the two that made the biggest impact. Both numbers had success in the charts for 1935, and vocalist Frances Langeford’s record featured both tunes, her first big recording.

Many die-hard jazz fans felt that Louis Armstrong had deserted jazz by the late-1920s when he began concentrating on recording popular songs. Yet Armstrong realized the importance of being what would now be referred to as a “crossover” artist; that to continue to play jazz and be successful he had to make concessions to the Tin Pan Alley music machine. Considering some of the material that Louis recorded during his Decca Records period (1934-1945), “I’m in the Mood” was certainly a better song than many, and Armstrong had successfully recorded versions of other Fields-McHugh compositions, notably “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Exactly Like You” from 1930 and “Blue Again” from 1931. (And if we are to believe that Fields and McHugh wrote “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” rather than Fats Waller and Andy Razaf, then it could be included in the list.)

Armstrong’s version of “I’m in the Mood for Love,” more pop treatment than swing, did have an impact. As far away as France, the American ex-pat trumpeter Bill Coleman did a duo version with the superb pianist Herman Chittison.

Vocalist/bandleader Billy Eckstine, another crossover artist who, like Armstrong, was more jazz than pop, recorded a hit version in 1945. His big band included jazz giants Fats Navarro on trumpet, Gene Ammons on tenor sax, and Art Blakey on drums.

More information on this tune...

Allen Forte
The American Popular Ballad of the Golden Era, 1924-1950: A Study in Musical Design
Princeton University Press
Hardcover: 336 pages

(Author/educator Forte devotes four pages to the song’s history and a musical analysis.)

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Recommendations for This Tune
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Louis Armstrong
Highlights From His Decca Years
Original Recording 1935

On this performance with his Orchestra, Armstrong finds a solid balance between faithfully interpreting the melody of “I’m in the Mood for Love” and creatively embellishing it, both in his vocals and in his trumpet work.

Nat King Cole
Embraceable You
Prestige Elite
Original Recording 1945

Pianist and vocalist Cole and his trio offer up a relaxed, swinging performance with fabulous, understated vocals. Cole’s piano is also picture-perfect, and guitarist Oscar Moore gets a solo turn of his own.

Art Tatum
The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1
Original Recording 1953

This solo piano performance presents “I’m in the Mood for Love” as a gentle, lush ballad. Eventually Tatum builds up enough speed to introduce some swinging stride, but the relaxed feeling remains.

Lester Young
Comp Lester Young Studio Session on Verve
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1954

This tender ballad performance features extremely emotive and melodic saxophone work by Young as he interprets and embellishes the melody. His lyricism remains on his solo, though the feeling changes to a swinging double-time.

Shirley Horn
Loads of Love & Shirley With Horns
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1963

Horn’s vocal approach to “I’m in the Mood for Love” is straightforward and emotionally direct, leaving decorative work to the lush orchestrations of Quincy Jones’ Orchestra.


- Noah Baerman

Elmo Hope Trio
1991 Original Jazz Classics 1751
Original recording 1955
Pianist Hope’s playing is gratifying but it is John Ore’s fastidious bass solo that steals the show on this exemplary trio reading.
Steve Tyrell
A New Standard
1999 Atlantic/WEA 83209

Tyrell is a straight-ahead singer with an appealing, slightly raspy voice. His version of this song is decidedly romantic.
Don Shirley
...Plays Love Songs/Don Shirley Trio
1999 Collectables 2758
Original recording
For an entirely different approach to this song listen to pianist Shirley’s solo version played in a classical vein.

- Ben Maycock

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