Take The A Train – 1964

Duke Ellington

An unusual version of Duke Ellington’s theme song

On this rare film clip from 1964, Duke Ellington begins by introducing the composer of “Take The ‘A’ Train,” Billy Strayhorn, from the audience to some rousing applause.

He then launches a version of his theme, saying that it will be an operatic version.

After a chorus, bassist Ernie Shepherd sings in a high voice, at first the lyrics before scatting along with his bass.

This is one of the few times that Shepherd was featured singing with the band, making this version a bit of a collector’s item.

-Scott Yanow