The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was a songwriter, pianist and conductor who was born in 1899 in Washington D.C where he also lived when he wasn’t on the road. He was a major figure and innovator in the history of jazz music. His song, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got swing”, was released in 1932 by Brunswick Records. This song unintentionally introduced the word “swing”, where he later stated, it was another word for jazz, but fans linked it to the moves their bodies made. Duke Ellington was always a solo vocalist but took a step in a new direction when adding Ivie Anderson as his first ever feature. It’s said, that Duke Ellington created the most distinctive ensemble sounds in western music and what he called “American Music” for the rest of his career. Duke Ellington died in 1974 in New York, New York but his legacy lives on.

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