The song of the day for Saturday, November 28, 2015 is “Take The A Train.”
About This Song
Today’s song, “Take The A Train,” was written by Billy Strayhorn in 1939; the lyrics by Joya Sherrill were added in 1944.
When Duke Ellington first hired Billy Strayhorn, he sent him directions to his home on Sugar Hill in Harlem, which included the instruction to “take the A train.” Strayhorn wrote his early and very famous song based on that. It became Ellington’s signature tune and was played at virtually every concert he gave.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing a concert of Ellington and Strayhorn songs, sung by Rebecca Kilgore with Darrell Grant on piano. In introducing this song, Ms. Kilgore said that these are probably the most famous set of instructions on how to get somewhere ever written down. Certainly, the most tuneful.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “Take The A Train” in 1999, featuring the Ralph Sharon Quartet, with Paul Langosch (bass), Gray Sargent (guitar) and Clayton Cameron (drums) and Al Grey on trombone and Wynton Marsalis on trumpet. It was arranged and conducted by Ralph Burns. This recording was an outtake recorded for Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool. It was included on Rarities, Outtakes & Other Delights, Vol. 2, which was originally available in the 2011 Complete Collection set but is now also available on iTunes.
“Take The A Train,” as well as all of the songs collected on Rarities, Outtakes & Other Delights, Vol. 2, is available from iTunes.
Today’s video features The Duke Ellington Orchestra playing “Take The A Train” with vocal from the bass player Ernie Sheppard. Ellington also introduces Billy Strayhorn to the audience. The video is from 1964.