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

It Do not Mean a Thing ( If It Is not Got That Swing) is a jazz standard from 1931, which was composed by Duke Ellington. The lyrics were written by Irving Mills. The title should go back to a phrase of the trumpeter Cootie Williams, according to other sources it comes from the late trumpeter of Ellington orchestra from tuberculosis Bubber Miley.


The composition was written by Ellington in August 1931 during a break in Chicago's Lincoln Tavern and is held in AABA form. It was first recorded by Duke Ellington Orchestra for Brunswick Records (Br 6265 ) on February 2, 1932. On this recording, the first neuverpflichtete Ivie Anderson singing the solos come from trombonist Joe Nanton and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. 1932 this recording six weeks in the American charts, where it penetrated to No. 6. In the fall of 1936, a cover version of the Mills Brothers, which reached number 7 in the charts.

The song was made famous by Ellington's opinion because it expressed the sentiments that prevailed at the jazz musicians of the time ( "as the expression of a sentiment prevailed among jazz musicians at Which the time" ).

It was probably one of the first songs that introduced the word "swing" in the title and introduced it into general use as an announcement of the Swing Era. Ellington took the piece several times over the years and it was during this time for recognition piece of the orchestra.

The song was also used in several films: Harlem Nights (1989 ), Swing Kids (1993, with Billy Banks) and Corrina, Corrina (2000, Ivie Anderson with the Duke Ellington Orchestra ).

Known recordings of other musicians

  • Thelonious Monk - Thelonious Monk Plays the Music of Duke Ellington (1955 )
  • Rosemary Clooney, Duke Ellington - Blue Rose ( 1956)
  • Nina Simone - Nina Simone Sings Ellington (1962 )
  • Carmen McRae, Betty Carter - The Carmen McRae - Betty Carter Duets (1987 )
  • Tony Bennett - MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett ( 1995), Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool (1999)
  • Eva Cassidy - American Tune ( 2003)
  • The Mills Brothers Golden Greats (2002), Goodbye, Blues (2005)
  • Gabin - Doo Uap, Uap Doo Doo Uap (2007)
  • Club des Belugas - SWOP! (feat. Brenda Boykin ) (2008 )