Take The "A" Train by Jim Loessberg
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"Take the 'A' Train" is a jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn that was the signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra. It is arguably the most famous of the many compositions to emerge from the collaboration of Ellington and Strayhorn.
The title refers to the A subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn up into Harlem and northern Manhattan, using the express tracks in Manhattan. "Take the 'A' Train" was composed in 1938, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began, "Take the A Train." Strayhorn was a great fan of Fletcher Henderson's arrangements. "One day, I was thinking about his style, the way he wrote for trumpets, trombones and saxophones, and I thought I would try something like that," Strayhorn recalled in Stanley Dance's The World Of Duke Ellington.
Based loosely on the chordal structure of "Exactly Like You", the song combines the propulsive swing of the 1940s-era Ellington band with the confident sophistication of Ellington and the black elite who inhabited Sugar Hill in Harlem. The tune is in AABA form, in the key of C, with each section being a lyric couplet.
Jim Loessberg teaches the song, including a typical big band interlude, on this audio CD with printed C6th tablature.