Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra (1932)

One of the great composers and band leaders of the 20th Century, doing a favorite of mine with Ivie Anderson on vocals.

From You Tube: "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" is a 1931 composition by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Irving Mills, now accepted as a jazz standard. The music was written and arranged by Ellington in August 1931 during intermissions at Chicago's Lincoln Tavern and was first recorded by Ellington and his orchestra for Brunswick Records (Br 6265) on February 2, 1932. Ivie Anderson sang the vocal and trombonist Joe Nanton and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges played the instrumental solos. The title was based on the oft stated credo of Ellington's former trumpeter Bubber Miley, who was dying of tuberculosis. The song became famous, Ellington wrote, "as the expression of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians at the time." Probably the first song to use the phrase "swing" in the title, it introduced the term into everyday language and presaged the Swing Era by three years. The Ellington band played the song continuously over the years and recorded it numerous times, most often with trumpeter Ray Nance as vocalist."


  1. Excellent song Doug, setting the trend, the definitive exemplar of Swing and proof postive that the Prohibition Era could not impede hedonism for very much longer

  2. That's true, AA ; when they said back then that "the Duke is tops" at the Cotton Club and other famous venues, the handwriting was on the wall against the puritan strain in American culture.

  3. Glad you enjoyed this one, Fred. The Ellington Band recorded this one, like many of their classics, more than once, but this is a great version.