This song is definitely one of the hymns of swing music: It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), composed in 1931 by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills.
It was recorded the first time on February 2, 1932 for Brunswick Records. Ivie Anderson sang the vocal and trombonist Joe Nanton and alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges played the instrumental solos.
There are many stories about the origin of the song title, as Jeremy Wilson is writing on jazzstandards.com:
Depending on whom you believe, it was a favorite saying of James “Bubber” Miley, who played the trumpet with Ellington’s band in the 1920’s. Yet another account has Cootie Williams (Miley’s replacement) insisting it was his catch phrase. Still another has Irving Mills taking credit for using the phrase in a sentence while telling Ellington that the customers weren’t dancing to the band’s music. In actual fact, any number of people may have been using the phrase when Ellington wrote the song.
It seems, that It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) brought the word “swing” into general use. It predicted the swing era and gave the swing era its name.
The song is quite fast! It works fine for advanced Lindy Hop dancers and for Balboa dancers anyway . The song isn’t played that much for dancers, though.
Title: It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
Artist: Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
Recorded: February 2, 1932
Album: Duke Ellington (Ken Burns Jazz)
Tempo: 214 bpm
Dance: Lindy Hop, Balboa
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