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.

DESUK Live Broadcast: Uptown Lockdown

Note the broadcast on Wednesday the 18th of November will be via Facebook rather than the usual Periscope.

We’re doing live broadcasts on Wednesday afternoons, 17:00 London time. We will be discussing matters Ellington and Strayhorn, playing tracks as well as a bit of live versions of their music. You can catch up at any time later.

More details on how to view and participate are on the Uptown Lockdown page.

Chat to us

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

2020 AGM

The DESUK Annual General Meeting had been scheduled for Saturday, 2 May 2020. In view of the current health uncertainty this meeting will not take place, nor can we give any indication of an alternative time.

As selection of a new Committee would normally have taken place at the AGM, all current committee members have indicated their willingness to continue in office until such time as normal business can be resumed, In this way we anticipate that DESUK features such as Blue Light can appear in the normal manner.

Please refer to the DESUK website for current information.

-– Mike Coates, DESUK Chairman

Non-society events

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

Len Phillips Big Band Big Band streamed live from Abbey Road

Saturday 20 March, 2.30pm (London time)

The Len Phillips Big Band be featuring trombonist Chris Traves and clarinettist Jon Shenoy on Mood Indigo live from Abbey Road Studio 2. The full 16 piece band plus singer, Matt Ford in a complete concert.

No ticket required, there will be an Honesty Box to help support our musicians.

More info at https://youtube.com/lenphillipsbigband1 and https://facebook.com/lenphillipsbigband.

Recent Tweets

Recent posts

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

Edward Green: Delighting in the Duke

All About Jazz recently published an extensive interview with Edward Green, Professor at Manhattan School of Music and the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington.

Ellington’s… masterpieces are vibrant evidence that opposite aspects of ourselves are meant to work together. And when they do, the result is beauty. – Edward Green

Enjoy it here.

Rabbit's Blues

Oxford University Press presents Con Chapman’s new biography of the great saxophonist and Ellington frontman Johnny Hodges.

As the first ever biography on Johnny Hodges, Rabbit’s Blues details his place as one of the premier artists of the alto sax in jazz history, and his role as co-composer with Ellington.

The estimated release date is early November; look out for a review in a future Blue Light.

CBS Tribute to Duke Ellington

CBS ran this tribute to Duke Ellington in 1974. Featuring interviews with Sonny Greer, Russell Procope, Billy Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald and preceded by an advert for a film by the other Duke (John Wayne), and to be enjoyed not only for its footage of the maestro but for the very best in mid-1970s TV advertising.