Duke Ellington Day

April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974

Take the A Train

The Duke Ellington Orchestra perform “Take The ‘A’ Train” with singer Betty Roche in an excerpt from the 1943 film “Reveille With Beverly.”

Pianist, composer, and bandleader, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, DC.

In a world of giants, he was a giant with a capital “G.”

Both parents were pianists, but initially he was more interested in baseball than his lessons.

At 14, Ellington started sneaking into local music venues and while listening to local “professors” became fascinated by the potential of the piano and jazz.

Duke Ellington was a force who would forever change music leaving his imprint as one of the most important figures in jazz development during the swing era and beyond.

Not only a pianist and composer of exceptional ability, Ellington was equally as important for the artistic collective formed by his band over the years playing host to a many legends in their own right.

Working with only top musicians over the course of half a century as bandleader his Orchestra was responsible for many innovations.

Among the most popular compositions to come out of the Ellington Orchestra was “Take The ‘A’ Train” written by fellow pianist and arranger Billy Strayhorn, whose collaboration with Ellington lasted for three decades beginning in 1938.

The lyrics were composed by singer Joya Sherrill who was an Orchestra member from 1944 to 1946.