“”Our theme is [Billy Strayhorn’s] “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and I can still hear his voice clearly clearing up any point of indecision with his watchword: “Ever onward and upward!” Many people are indebted to Billy Strayhorn, and I more than anybody.”
-Duke Ellington, Music Is My Mistress
Ray Nance’s classic trumpet solo on the original version of Take the “A” Train. Transcribed by Bryan Wendell Bennett for his Master’s Thesis, “Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, and Ray Nance: Duke Ellington’s trumpet soloists 1940-1942”
The recordings heard on this podcast episode:
Take the “A” Train (CD: “Highlights of the Great 1940-1942 Band” Avid, AMSC1143)
Recorded 15 February 1941, Los Angeles
Wallace Jones, Ray Nance –trumpets; Rex Stewart – cornet; Lawrence Brown, Juan Tizol, Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton – trombones; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Barney Bigard, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.
Manhattan Murals (CD: “Carnegie Hall, November 13, 1948” Vintage Jazz Classics 1024)
Recorded 13 November 1948 at Carnegie Hall, New York City
Shelton Hemphill, Al Killian, Francis Williams, Harold Baker, Ray Nance – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Quentin Jackson, Tyree Glenn – trombone; Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges, Al Sears, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guy; Wendell Marshall – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.
Take the “A” Train (LP: “The Greatest Jazz Concert In the World” Pablo 2625-070)
Recorded 26 March 1967, Carnegie Hall, New York City
Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson – piano; Cootie Williams, Cat Anderson, Herbie Jones, Mercer Ellington – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors – trombone; Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney – reeds; John Lamb – bass; Rufus Jones – drums.