Recent Comments


    Duke Ellington Lives on in Doug Ellington’s Seductive Music

    dukeDoug Ellington’s new album, Din In the Distance, satiates an internal longing. He asked me, “Do you ever have an agenda throughout your day, and yet there may be this underlying thing that’s pulling you in a certain direction? You subconsciously know it’s there, and through the process of realizing what that nagging thing is, you come across something completely beautiful.”

    This was his reply when I asked him what inspired the evocative title for his soon-to- be released second album. He answers questions with questions, and his answers always lead to more questions. It is through music that Doug is able to articulate what we know and experience metaphysically.

    I first met Doug at a musical event last year. He was performing a tribute to his ultimate influence, Duke Ellington, and I was there to listen. Later that week, I sang a few songs with him at a local club. A month later, I recorded the song for my first music video in his recording studio, Lama Box in Oakland.

    While Doug is best known as a trumpet player, he produced, composed, arranged, sang the vocals for and engineered Din In The Distance. “The only thing I didn’t do is master it,” he said. “I’m kind of scared of being criticized on all ends, but I’m so close to it. I know exactly what I want.” As someone who has spent a lot of his life in recording studios, he wanted to get “dirty with the nuts and bolts of the production side.”

    Doug’s music is an eclectic combination of genres, including rock, hip hop, r&b and jazz. Yet, he is not boxed in by any of them. “I wasn’t raised to think in terms of genres,” he explained. “I was raised to think in terms of sound.”

    The sound he’s created on Din In The Distance is bigger than life: seductive, catchy and still unpredictable. As Duke Ellington would say with the intention of high praise, the music is “beyond category.” Doug believes that everything is energy and he listens to the energy that comes from an artist.

    “Genres can be misleading,” he told me. “It would be great if there were no genres, although it makes sense from a marketing standpoint.” Imagine walking into a record store and asking the clerk, “How do I find this sound? I don’t know the artist’s name, but it goes like this…” Doug makes his point by humming a few notes.

    When I asked Doug to elaborate on Duke Ellington’s influence on his music, he told me that Duke “is the core of everything I do.” One day, a while back, Doug got a call from Narada Michael Walden, an acclaimed producer and artist. He asked Doug what his favorite song was by Duke. Doug said, “I love everything he did in the 30’s; I love everything he did in the 40’s. Can we narrow it down to at least a decade rather than just a song?”

    Din In The Distance is scheduled for release this June. Check out Doug Ellington on and

    Shelley MacKay is a Bay Area-based jazz, pop, r&b and rock vocalist/songwriter. Learn more at