Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899 – 1974) was an American composer, pianist and big-band bandleader who composed thousands of scores over his 50-year career. He composed “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)“ in 1931. The lyrics were written by Irving Mills. The song is now accepted as a jazz standard.
A big band is a type of ensemble of jazz music. They dominated jazz in the early 1940s when swing music was most popular and the big bands provided the accompaniment for dancing. Swing music uses subtle syncopated rhythms (rhythm patterns where stressed notes are placed off the beat).
In contrast to the typical jazz emphasis on improvisation, big bands relied more on written compositions and arrangements. They gave a greater role to bandleaders, arrangers, and sections of instruments rather than soloists. Big bands usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section.