Duke Ellington Plates

The Case:

1941, Manhattan bustles, and New York City's newest subway line - the "A" train - is moving people in more ways than one. A new instrumental "Take the 'A' Train," rolls up the charts and will become the signature song of pianist Edward Kennedy Ellington. The song will bring financial success to a pioneering music publishing venture, owned by Duke Ellington.

But was the young composer of "Take the A Train" himself denied full credit for the hit song? More than half a century later, Garfield Gillings, of Brooklyn, New York, has made a discovery, boxes of sheet music in a dumpster. Among the paper scores are metal sheets that look like printing plates for "Take the A Train."

History Detectives sets out to find the story behind these plates and to determine the role they played in this jazz classic.

Discuss this story

Season 8, Episode 5
Season 7, Episode 11

Tukufu Zuberi Location:
Brooklyn, New York

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