Thursday, March 7, 2013

The "A" Train



After taking this photo earlier today, I just couldn't resist.

From Wiki...
"Take the 'A' Train" was composed in 1939, 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. 
The use of the Strayhorn composition as the signature tune was made necessary by a ruling in 1940 by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP). When ASCAP raised its licensing fees for broadcast use, many ASCAP members, including Ellington, could no longer play their compositions over radio, as most music was played live on radio in those days. Ellington turned to Billy Strayhorn and son Mercer Ellington, who were registered with ASCAP competitor BMI to "write a whole new book for the band," Mercer recalled." 'A' Train" was one of many songs written by Strayhorn, and was picked to replace "Sepia Panorama" as the band's signature song. Mercer recalled that he found the song in a trash can after Strayhorn discarded a draft of it because it sounded too much like a Fletcher Henderson arrangement. The song was first recorded on January 15, 1941 as a standard transcription for radio broadcast.

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