The song of the day for Saturday, June 29, 2019, is “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
About This Song
Today’s song, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” was written in 1931 by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills. This song was one of the first songs to use the word “swing” in the title and this song certainly defined what it meant to swing. Ellington recorded the song with Ivie Anderson on vocals and it was an immediate hit. It has been widely recorded since it was written and the song is a lot of fun to play and to listen to. Significant recordings include those by Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Gigi Gryce, Tony Bennett, and Thelonious Monk.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded this version of “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” in 1999 for the album Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool. This album was released in the centennial year of Ellington’s birth in 1899. Ralph Burns did the terrific arrangement. Burns first worked with Bennett for the 1959 mini-masterpiece Hometown, My Town, followed by My Heart Sings in 1961, as well working on other albums, including this 1999 Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool.
Today, The Year of Tony Bennett is celebrating the career of Ralph Burns, who was born on June 29, 1922. I adore the work he did for Bennett over the years. His big-band sound makes me smile every time I listen to his arrangements. In addition to his work as an arranger, Burns was a noted jazz pianist and composer. He said that he learned the most about jazz by transcribing the works of Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington. He also worked on films, where he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Score for All That Jazz, and on Broadway, where he won Tony Awards for Best Orchestration for Fosse and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Ralph Burns died in 2001, just a few years after his work on Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool.
It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), a song by Tony Bennett on Spotify
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” as well as Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool, is available from iTunes.
I love this Ellington song so much that I’m adding a couple of different versions, because I love them both equally!
First up is the original recording by Ellington, featuring Ivie Anderson on vocals.
It Don’t Mean A Thing, a song by Ivie Anderson With Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra on Spotify
Next is from 1961’s The Great Summit, with Ellington and Louis Armstrong:
It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) – 1990 Remaster, a song by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington on Spotify