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. It is based in the United Kingdom, but membership is open to everyone.

In ordinary times we meet regularly in London to listen and socialise, and new arrivals always welcome. During the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve had to suspend these meetings, but the society’s social aspect continues under the auspices of Uptown Lockdown (see below).

Our Magazine: Blue Light

Our house publication Blue Light is released to members quarterly. A substantial publication, its wide-ranging content contains articles, news, reviews of records and live performances. Our contributors include jazz authors, journalists, critics and musicians as well as other Ellington enthusiasts.

You can read a sample article here: “Jazz, Revue and a Thriller” The Response of the Birmingham Press to Duke Ellington’s 1933 Tour , by Pedro Cravinho, Birmingham City University (PDF, 7.3MB).

Join us

By joining us you’ll receive our quarterly magazine and support the society’s activities. New and returning paid members for 2021 will receive a free CD with their subscription. Click here for more details.

DESUK Live Broadcast: Uptown Lockdown

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.

Get in touch

You can get in touch with DESUK by emailing desuk@dukeellington.org.uk . We’re also chatting online using Discord - join us at https://discord.gg/efQNUMa.

You can keep up to date with DESUK news via this website, our mailing list, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Forthcoming AGM

It was not possible to hold an AGM in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are hoping to hold one in the second half of 2021 and will keep our members informed via Blue Light and this website. For the time being, the committee from the 2019 AGM remains in place.

Non-society events

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

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.