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Friday, August 17, 2007

Billy Strayhorn takes the "A" train

"... There’s a legend about this song. However legends in the jazz world have so much proliferated through the years that it’s hard to say whether they’re true or not. Strayhorn had already met Ellington in 1938 and had tried to impress him with his musical taste and ability on the piano. He probably succeeded in doing so, since Ellington told him they would have been in touch again in the near future. However, in January 1939, Strayhorn had still not heard from Duke. He decided to go and meet him again. He called Ellington’s office and found out he was out on a gig in Harlem. He went all the way from his home in Pittsburgh to NYC and when there he called again Ellington’s office to have directions on how to get where the Duke was playing. He had already in his pocket a composition he had prepared at home, hoping to impress the seasoned band leader. He eventually reached Harlem and got to actually play for Ellington. The old leader was obviously impressed with the song and asked him what the title was. Strayhorn was so excited he could only come up with the last thing he had heard: the directions he got from Ellington’s office to reach Harlem! That’s how the song came to be called “Take the 'A' train”. ..." (Quoted from Wikipedia Entry)

Here's Billy Strayhorn sitting in with the Duke and his orchestra in 1965:

Added by brian740