Happy Birthday to Duke Ellington who was born on 4/29/1899 and would been gasp! 117 today. An influential pioneer of the big band form, the composer, bandleader, and pianist Ellington brought prestige to jazz and, particularly, swing – later earning the label “King of Swing.” He has been referred to as America’s greatest composer in any genre. His fifty years as orchestra leader left thousands of compositions, ranging in size and scope from standards to extended suites. He created one of the most distinctive ensemble sounds in Western music and continued to play what he called “American Music” until shortly before his death in 1974. Watch Duke and his Orchestra perform “Take the A Train” live in 1962.