Blue Light is the 24 pages quarterly magazine of The Duke Ellington Society UK (DESUK) and is distributed to members of The Duke Ellington Society UK who pay an annual subscription of £25.00.

It offers an eclectic mix of news, reviews and articles written by members of DESUK and international Ellington and Strayhorn experts.

The magazine also promotes the release of recordings by Duke Ellington and his orchestra, radio and television broadcasts on Ellington-related themes as well as supporting the vibrant scene of newly recorded and live performances today of the music of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.

Over the years, Blue Light has published major retrospectives on and many accounts of on Ellington’s tours of the UK written by Ellington scholars or by who saw the Orchestra perform live or who, indeed, worked with Ellington.

Blue Light aims to reflect a truly international perspective. In recent years, in particular, we have developed close ties with Ellington aficionados the world over.

With regard to future developments, we have one or two exciting projects in hand for the next twelve months, taking to heart the motto of Billy Strayhorn:  Ever onward and upward.

The very first edition of what was initially called the DESUK Newsletter was circulated in December 1994 to those who had signed up at the inaugural meeting of DESUK earlier in the year.

It was not until the first edition of the newsletter in January 1996 that this publication became known as Blue Light, the title chosen presumably because of the pale blue colour of the card that was used for the covers of the magazine.

Over the course of its twenty-two-year history, there have been five Editors of Blue Light. Its first Editor, David Fleming was also a prime mover in helping to set up DESUK and he set the standards for the magazine for over six years before he was succeeded by his Assistant Editor Bill Bailey. Bill took charge of the magazine for five years, before a brief ‘interregnum’ with Derek Else, a major force within the Society, who took charge for just a couple of editions and assisted Roger Boyes in his first couple of editions as Editor.

Roger is the longest serving Editor of the magazine and he held this responsibility for eight years before being succeeded by the present incumbent Ian Bradley with Geoff Smith, the current Chairman of DESUK in the role of Managing Editor.

One of the major specialists in the UK on Ellington’s music, Roger’s tenure also saw significant developments in the professionalism with which the magazine was presented. In this, he was given great support by the late Ken Vail, author of the comprehensive two volume set Duke’s Diary whose experience in graphic design and layout contributed immeasurably to the magazine’s development.

A complete archive of all copies of the journal is held by DESUK and at The National Jazz Archive in Essex in the United Kingdom.

Author: Ian Bradley

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