It’s Duke Ellington Day in NYC!!!

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has declared today Duke Ellington Day, on what would have been the 110th birthday of the musical legend.  Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington died in 1974 at the age of 75, but his music will never die. According to UPI:

To commemorate the musician’s life, The Islands of the Bahamas said
they are sponsoring a special run of New York’s last surviving 1939 A
Train, made famous in Ellington’s signature tune “Take the A Train.”

Take the A Train,” written by Billy Strayhorn while he was taking the A Train to rehearsal, I have dozens of recordings of “Take the A Train,” by Ellington because he recorded it so many times.  Some live.  Some solo.  Some with a small group.  Some with a full orchestra. Every single one holds new surprises, no matter how familiar I am with the tune. Here are three great versions of Ellington’s signature tune. The first is Duke with a rockin’ trio, followed by an early version with his orchestra, and finally, one with Ella Fitzgerald on vocals.

With thousands of compositions, and so many interpretations of Duke Ellington tunes, it was hard to pick a stand-out performance until I remembered Dr. John’s tribute CD “Duke Elegant.”  Boogie now!!!

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.