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

Regular programming is currently paused, 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

  • The performance of On Duke’s Birthday at Ronnie Scotts, postponed several times due to Covid, is now going ahead at last, on Tuesday the 12th and Wednesday the 13th of April (https://www.ronniescotts.co.uk), and at Cheltenham on the 1st of May.
  • Harmony In Harlem are playing Such Sweet Thunder in King’s Lynn on 23rd April (St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday) in St George’s Guildhall - the only surviving working theatre which can claim to have hosted Shakespeare himself! Details here: https://kingslynncornexchange.co.uk/theatre/whats-on/event/duke-ellington-meets-the-bard/
  • DESS’ Ellington 2022 April 25-29 (see below).

You can also catch DESUK’s very own Frank Griffith at any of the following gigs:

  • 17 April, 2PM. Frank Griffith Trio. Nantwich Jazz Festival. www.nantwichjazz.com. Free.
  • 25 June, 8PM. Frank Griffith Nonet with Louise Gibbs - Songs of Ellington and Strayhorn. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BB. Book here £12.

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

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Recent posts

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.

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