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It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

Music by Duke Ellington

"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, characterized by jazz historian Gunther Schuller as "now legendary", "a prophetic piece and a prophetic title."

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 on February 2, 1932. Ivie Anderson sang the vocal and trombonist Joe Nanton and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges played the instrumental solos. The song became famous, Ellington wrote, "as the expression of a sentiment which prevailed among jazz musicians at the time." Ellington credited the saying as a "credo" of his former trumpeter, Bubber Miley, who was dying of tuberculosis and died in the same year that the song was released. 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 continually over the years and recorded it numerous times, most often with trumpeter Ray Nance as vocalist.

    Release Date: 1931
Awards
2008 - Grammy Winner - Hall Of Fame

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