Welcome to DESUK

The Duke Ellington Society UK’s purpose is to further the study, appreciation and dissemination of the music of Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington.

We meet regularly in London to listen and socialise, and new arrivals are always welcome.

Our house publication Blue Light is released quarterly. The content is wide ranging and we are fortunate to have amongst our members jazz authors, journalists and critics, and equally fortunate to have many enthusiastic members who, because of their own deep interest, have become expert in particular niches of Ellingtonia.

2021 AGM

A reminder that our AGM is taking place on the 16th of October, at the great new location of the Model Railway Club. This is a wonderful opportunity for members and fans of Duke Ellington to get involved in the Society and its work, particularly if you’d like to help out with Blue Light or with the running of the Society. The last AGM brought several new additions to the Committee and we’re looking forward to new faces this time too.

The AGM will start at 1pm, though we have the room booked from noon if you are a little early. A bar with snacks, hot drinks, soft drinks and alcohol will be in operation. Please note the room is up one flight of stairs and there is unfortunately no lift.

After the formal proceedings there will be musical entertainment - we are proud to present The Frank Griffith Trio with Dave Green and Colin Oxley!

The full address is: Model Railway Club, Keen House, 4 Calshot St, London N1 9DA. Google Maps location here.

DESUK Live Broadcast: Uptown Lockdown

Update: Louis Armstrong Special, Wednesday the 4th of August at 7pm. Watch here or catch-up later: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH-VzJJ6grs

Our live show is currently paused for the summer, but you can catch up with any episodes you missed on YouTube.

For more details on how to view and participate, or to make a donation to support the show, are on the Uptown Lockdown page.

Chat to us

We’re chatting online using Discord - join us at https://discord.gg/efQNUMa.

Non-society events

Got a gig coming up with an Ellington element? Pop us an email and we can publicise via our website.

Frank Griffith

DESUK members will know Frank from his regular contributions to Blue Light, and as co-host of Uptown Lockdown. Here’s a list of some of his upcoming gigs:

Date: 31 August 2021
Location: Wilmslow Conservative Club.15 Grove Avenue, Wilmslow, SK9 5EG
Time: 8.30PM
Featuring: The Frank Griffith Quartet
More information: 01625 528336
Admission: £8

Date: 5 September 2021
Location: The Railway Pub, 74 Wellington Road, Stockport, SK4 1HF
Time: 9PM
Featuring: Frank Griffith Quartet with Dave Lynane, Misha Gray and Eryl Roberts
More information: 0161 477 3680
Admission: £10

Date: 25 September 2021
Location: Ma Boyles. 7 Tower Gardens, The Strand,Liverpool, L3 1LG
Time: 9PM
Featuring: Frank Griffith Trio
Admission: Free
More information: www.parrjazz.co.uk

Date: 16 October 2021 (i.e. the AGM!)
Location: Model Railway Club, Keen House, 4 Calshot Street, London, N1 9DA
Time: 3PM
Featuring: Frank Griffith Trio with Dave Green, Colin Oxley
Admission: Free
More information: www.dukeellington.org.uk

Date: 28 November 2021
Location: Wigan Jazz, The Music Continuum, Whelley Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Vauxhall Rd, Wigan, WN1 2BB
Time:12.30PM
Featuring: Frank Griffith Quintet with Mike Hall, Andrezj Baraneck, Eryl Roberts and Ed Harrison
Admission: £10
More information: www.musiccontinuum.co.uk

Got a link you’d like to share? Let us know at desuk@dukeellington.org.uk. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the above.

Recent Tweets

Recent posts

Wanted: New Editor

Patrick Olsen has stood down as a Committee Member and as Editor of Blue Light, a decision necessitated by changes in his professional life, including his recent move to Singapore. Blue Light has continued to thrive under his editorship, and it is important we express our gratitude to Patrick for all he has achieved on behalf of all members.

Even more important is our pressing need to find a successor. The forthcoming issue, 28-2, will be Patrick’s last. After that the Committee will take charge in the interim, but this arrangement can only be for the short term, and we do need a member to have editorial oversight of the activities involved. Without Blue Light DESUK as we know it would not survive for long, so the need is urgent.

These are the various Blue Light activities, shared between the Editor and members of the Committee:

  1. Themes, Balance and Range, Issue by Issue
  2. Writing copy
  3. Obtaining and preparing copy from other sources; securing permissions
  4. Sourcing and preparing pictures
  5. Events and DESUK activities: announcing and reporting
  6. Sub-editing, checking factual accuracy, proof-reading
  7. Page layout/production values
  8. Assembling page by page (currently 24 pages quarterly)
  9. Converting assembled pages into a PDF
  10. PDF to printer (currently Profile Business Supplies)
  11. Collecting the finished product; stuffing envelopes and mailing

In the past the Editor has always been an officer or Committee member too, and there are obvious advantages in this, though my own view is that it need not be essential, as long as there exist good communications among the Blue Light team.

We are also looking for offers of help in any one or more of the areas listed above. The future of BL will be more secure if the activities are shared among several members, working as a small team under the Editor’s guidance. That would have the advantage that the burden would not fall too heavily on one individual’s shoulders.

If you feel you would like to become an Editor, or if you can contribute in any way to one or more aspects of producing Blue Light, or if you want to talk further about it, please get in touch with us at desuk@dukeellington.org.uk .

Seen Elsewhere No. 2

Another Blue Light should be on its way to our members, if it hasn’t arrived already. Hopefully you’ve also received an email with our latest news. Just in case, here are some of the links and news items included.

DESS Announces Ellington 2021

The Duke Ellington Society Of Sweden (DESS) has announced a virtual Ellington conference for 2021.

Duke Ellington Society of Sweden (DESS) and DESScafé will organise an Ellington 2021 Meeting April 29 and May 3, 5, 7.

It is a Zoom-based event building on the experience of DESScafé launched in October last year as a place for DESS members to meet and listen to Ellington music.

More details on the DESS website. See you there!

Seen Elsewhere

The latest Blue Light should hopefully be on its way to you by now. In the meantime, here are a few links from across the wider world of Ellingtonia:

  • Money Jungle: A Masterpiece of Disharmony: Matt Levin discusses the infamous 1962 summit with Charles Mingus and Max Roach.
  • DESS recently published a short article on Juan Tizol featuring a Kurt Dietrich presentation from Ellington '93.
  • The 14th of December marks Clark Terry's centenary. Ellington Live has unearthed a rare video with Bud Powell. There are a number of other interesting blog posts in the last few months worth checking out, including a new DVD of Ellington’s Sacred Concert at Coventry Cathedral and a preview of two forthcoming albums Duke’s Ladies.
  • Pianist and jazz educator Ron Drotos has again visited Ellington in his blog series covering the Real Book. Entering the Pianistic World of Duke Ellington discusses his pianistic style through the vehicle of In A Mellow Tone.
  • A Sapphire of Tonal Brilliance: John Edward Hasse writes for the WSJ on Mood Indigo.
  • Ehsan Khoshbakht’s Duke Ellington's Solo Piano at WWDC, 1946 features a rare late night recording.
  • Finally, it would be remiss of us not to point out Dave Brubeck’s centenary on the 6th of December. There’s a website dedicated to it here: https://www.davebrubeck.com/centennial. Due to the pandemic, many of the celebratory events have been pushed into 2021. For now, there’s always his 1958 album of Ellington compositions live from Newport.
Got a link you’d like to share? Let us know at desuk@dukeellington.org.uk. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the above.

Mailing list launched

To keep in touch with our membership in between issues of Blue Light, and to share news between issues, we have started an email mailing list. We will provide updates about mailings of Blue Light and other society events as and when they occur, and promise not to bombard our membership with excessive spam. The list is open to paid subscribers and the general public alike, and you can unsubscribe at any time. More details on the mailing list page.

Pitter Panter Chatter

Matthias Heyman has launched a new site devoted to seminal bassist and Ellingtonian Jimmie Blanton at https://www.mattheyman.com/pitter-panter-chatter featuring

… regular posts with tidbits, little-known facts, and deep dives on jazz bassist Jimmie Blanton (1918– 1942), best known for his tenure with composer and big band leader Duke Ellington between 1939 and 1941.

While we’re here, don’t forget to listen in to our Paul Gonsalves 100th Anniversary special Uptown Lockdown at https://www.pscp.tv/AP64740207/1YqKDpOWYXAKV.

Some Lockdown Listening Suggestions

Running out of Ellington (or Jazz in general) to listen to? Here are a few suggestions from around the web:

Got any more suggetions? Post them in our Discord chatroom at https://discord.gg/efQNUMa