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.

AGM 2024 - At Last!

We’re planning on having an Annual General Meeting on Saturday the 18th of May, at the Model Railway Club in central London. More details closer to the time. Please come along and get involved if you can - it’s fun, honest!

DESUK TV: Uptown Lockdown

Episodes are available 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.

Many of our members are musicians who perform Ellington material: * Frank Griffith: saxophonist, clarinettist, composer and educator. Find out more at www.frankgriffith.co.uk. * Quentin Bryar plays for the Louisiana Rhythm Kings. See louisianarhythmkings.co.uk.

Harmony In Harlem

Three concerts to look forward to! * Cambridge Saturday 23rd March * Ely Sat 15th June 2024 * Harlow Sun 13th October 2024

More details on the website: https://www.harmonyinharlem.co.uk/

Recent Tweets

Recent posts

DESS Announces Ellington 2022

The Duke Ellington Society Of Sweden (DESS) has announced a virtual Ellington conference for 2022.

Following up on the success of Ellington Meeting 2021, DESS and DESScafé have decided to organize an Ellington Meeting also in 2022.

It will take place in the last week of April and have sessions on April 25, 26, 28 and 29. Each session will be from 7 to 10 PM CEST.

More details on the DESS website. See you there!

AGM 2021

Annual General Meeting 2021, Model Railway Club, London

Our much-delayed Annual General Meeting 2021 took place at the Model Railway Club, London, on Saturday the 16th of October. There was unfortunately no AGM in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Congratulations to our newly-elected committee, consisting of:

  • Chairman: Michael Coates
  • Vice-Chairman: Antony Pepper
  • Secretary: Charlie Dyson
  • Treasurer: Grant Elliot
  • Membership Secretary: Michael Coates
  • Meetings Organiser: Antony Pepper
  • Archive Officer: Pedro Cravinho
  • Artistic/Academic Adviser: Frank Griffith
  • Blue Light Editor: Gareth Evans
  • George Duncan
  • Quentin Bryar
  • Roger Boyes

We’re all particularly delighted to see Gareth Evans take over the reins as editor of Blue Light.

Post-meeting entertainment

After the formalities, members were entertained by the Frank Griffith Trio with Frank on tenor sax and clarinet, Colin Oxley guitar and Dave Green on bass. Jazz Journal’s Leon Nock was there and you can read his review here.

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