The Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma was born in 1848 on this day. The great French mathematician Henri Poincare was born in 1854. Publisher William Randolph Hearst was born in 1863. The Dutch artist and print maker Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman was born in 1882. Japanese Emperor Hirohito was born in 1901. The great director Fred Zinnemann was born in 1907. And French comedic director Gerard Oury was born in 1919.
Rod McKuen is 80 today. Conman Bernie Madoff is 75. Jerry Seinfeld is 59. Daniel Day-Lewis is 56. Michelle Pfeiffer is 55. Rapper Master P is 46. Tennis player Andre Agassi and actor Uma Thurman are 43.
Although I could easily have given the day to Poincare, how could I when Duke Ellington was born on this day in 1899? Now, in general, I don’t like big bands. They tend to homogenize jazz. But Ellington’s was one of a few exceptions to this. You would never mistake him for Glenn Miller. (Even though he wasn’t bad at all!) Here is Duke Ellington with his band doing his composition “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”:
And here is the Duke Ellington Trio doing the great Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train”: