Duke Ellington


Hurry, get on, now, it's coming
Listen to those rails a-thrumming
Get on the A Train
Soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem

Duke Ellington, 'Take The "A" Train'

Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. His career spanned over 50 years, leading his orchestra from 1923 until he died. Born in Washington, D.C., he was based in New York City from the mid-1920s, and gained a national profile through his orchestra’s appearances at the Cotton Club. Some of the musicians who were members of Ellington’s orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are still, in their own right, considered to be among the best players in jazz, but it was Ellington who melded them into the best-known jazz orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big-band, and thanks to his eloquence and charisma, he is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional genres of music. His reputation increased after his death and he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Gunther Schuller wrote in 1989: “In jazz he was a giant among giants. And in twentieth century music, he may yet one day be recognized as one of the half-dozen greatest masters of our time.”