Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Celebrate Duke Ellington's Birthday in New York City

"You must take the A train, to go to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem.If you miss the A train, You'll find you've missed the quickest way to Harlem."

New York City Mayor Mike "Billionaire" Bloomberg has declared April 29th Duke Ellington Day in honor of the 110th anniversary of the jazz legend’s birth. Duke Ellington, one of the 20th century’s most renowned musicians, is among the signature figures not only in the history of jazz, but in the history of American music.

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. His funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was attended by over 12,000 people. Ella Fitzgerald put it best: "A genius has passed."

Wednesday April 29th, 2009 10:00 am
"Take the A Train"
Sponsored by Moda Entertainment and the Islands of the Bahamas.

Ride the Original 1938 Historic "A Train" with Paul Ellington & The Duke Ellington Orchestra in honor of Duke Ellington's 110th birthday!

There will be a special ceremony and performance of the iconic song "Take the A Train" on the mezzanine of 125th Street Station in Harlem at 10AM. All musicians will then board and perform on the historic train as it travels out on it's regular service along the A line to Howard Beach and back. The train will leave from the 125th St. Station at 11AM.

About the A Train:
Seventy five years ago, on 10 September, 1932, the A express train made its first trip under Eighth Avenue spanning twelve miles from downtown all the way to Inwood at the top of Manhattan. Now, the A train travels from Inwood-207th Street to Far Rockaway, 31 miles away in Queens. It is the longest line in the New York subway.

Billy Strayhorn wrote "Take the A train" in 1941. Strayhorn was traveling up to Sugar Hill where Duke Ellington lived when the music flowed into his head. It was inspired by the rapidity of the train that rumbles down express tracks. The song became Duke Ellington's signature tune. "Take the A train" was played at both Strayhorn and Ellington's funeral and is the most well known piece of both jazz musicians. NPR added "Take the A Train" to the NPR top 100 list of America's culturally significant songs.

Wednesday April 29th, 2009 1:10 pm
"Duke Ellington's 110th at 110th"

At 1:10 pm at 110th Street and 5th Ave. Duke Ellington’s family and The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts will be launching a series of activities to commemorate and celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington.

The kickoff will be held at The Duke Ellington Memorial, located inside Duke Ellington Circle, on 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Open to the public, the program will feature tributes to The Duke, followed by a brass band and second line procession through Central Park.

The Duke Ellington Memorial is located at Duke Ellington Circle on Central Park’s northeast corner. The sculpture of Edward Kennedy Ellington at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue is the first monument in New York City dedicated to an African American and the first memorial to Duke Ellington in the United States.

More Duke Ellington related events in New York City:

The Central Park Conservancy also has many great FREE programs all summer long celebrating the life of Duke Ellington. These events are co-presented by the Jazz Museum in Harlem, African Film Festival, and the Jazzmobile.

Check out the schedule here.

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