The song of the day for Tuesday, April 27, 2021, is “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
About This Song
Duke Ellington wrote “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” in 1931, 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 his album dedicated to Duke Ellington, Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool, which was released in the centenary year of Ellington’s birth. Ralph Burns wrote the very swinging arrangement.
“It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” as well as Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool, is available from Apple Music.
There are a lot of fantastic recordings of this song; I’ve narrowed it down to three.
First is Ellington’s original recording, featuring Ivie Anderson on vocals:
Next is Louis Armstrong and Ellington, who got together for The Great Summit in 1961. I love this recording because of Armstrong singing the verse.
And finally, I just discovered this video of Ella Fitzgerald yesterday and it’s just great!