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

Dr John 1941 - 2019

Dr John (Malcolm John Rebennack Jr.) passed away on June 6, 2019. Among his extensive discography he leaves us an album of Ellington covers, Duke Elegant. Here’s a fun one. Check out an fascinating reworking of The Flaming Sword on the same album.

Upcoming Conference: Documenting Jazz 2020

Birmingham is hosting 2020’s Documenting Jazz conference in January.

Birmingham City University is pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the Documenting Jazz conference, to be held on 16–18 January 2020. Now in its second year, Documenting Jazz brings together colleagues from across the academic, archive, library, and museum sectors to explore and discuss documenting jazz.

More details at documentingjazz.com

Ron Drotos on Ellington

Spotted over at Ron Drotos’ wesbsite: The Beginner’s Guide To Duke Ellington. A nice introductory article with some good selections. One to share with Ellington newcomers.

Ron told us:

I got on board the Ellington train in the early 1980s, when I was 17-18 years old. My piano teacher Billy Taylor had known Ellington and Strayhorn and used to make me cassettes of out-of-print albums of theirs.

There are a few more Ellington-related blog posts on the site, including the surprising similarity between Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, and Elton John, as well as guides to playing some of the songs. We look forward to more!