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DESS salutes the birthday of Duke Ellington


Today it is 117 years ago since the wonderful life of Duke Ellington began. Every year on this day  we salute him with Happy Birthday and sit down to talk about his legacy and enjoy our favorite Ellington recordings.


Duke Ellington Society of Sweden (DESS) has as its main objective to promote and maintain the interest in the music and life of Duke Ellington and to get new groups to share this interest.

Every time we meet we talk among ourselves how we can do this even better and bring further value to the members of DESS and to the international Duke Ellington network.

This has made us to decide to honor the Duke with a very special birthday present – a completely new DESS website. (more…)

Memories of a birthday celebration in Sweden


Duke Ellington’s 40th birthday on 29 April 1939 was celebrated in Stockholm from the early morning into the late night. The highlight was the concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall – the next to last one of Ellington’s long tour of Sweden – but there were also a lot of other things.

It started in the early morning at the hotel.



Duke at Meadowbrook 1951





Duke and the orchestra played for dancing at Meadowbrook, New Jersey in early June 1951 and we know of the existence of eight different broadcasts from this engagement. Meadowbrook was at the time a well-known venue for the very best jazz and swing bands of the dance band era. Unfortunately, very few items from those eight broadcasts have found their way on to commercially issued LP’s and CD’s which is a pity, because the orchestra really sounds great on these old recordings. (more…)

New issue of the DESS Bulletin published

The second issue for 2016 of the DESS Bulletin is published and it will reach the DESS-members in the next couple of days. Ben Webster is the main feature of the issue with a 8 pages long article by Steve Wallace full of details and personal perspectives. The collaboration between Ellington and Orson Wells is another topic in the issue. Fred Glueckstein writes about unfinished Orson Wells films for which Ellington was hired to write the music. The series on Ellington songs get another contribution with an article on “Azalea”, which Ellington composed in 1946 or 1947. (more…)

Duke i Borlänge 12 juni 1963


Borlänge in the center of Sweden was one of the stops during Ellington’s long tour of Sweden in June 1963. On the 12th June, the band played in the amusement park there. The day before it had performed in Gävle and the night thereafter it was going to be in Norrköping. A local Ellington fan, Olle Lindholm, was busy with his camera and here are four of his photos from the evening.

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In Borlänge, Duke also handed out a prize. Here is the story behind this (as told by DESS-member Villy Bergström almost 50 years later). (more…)

New issue of Blue Light

The spring issue of DESUK’s Blue Light is now available and has been sent to Its subscribers. As usual it is an issue with a lot of good and interesting reading.

One of the focuses this time is the Second Sacred Concert in Coventry in 1966 and the event is brought back in a couple of articles written at the time when it took place. The journal also has an extensive article on the of Harold Ashby as a leader 1978-2003 with detailed information on the records issued. (more…)

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