New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik presented this week a wonderful, sideways look at New York in his BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘Take the A-train’, a history of the A-train and of its importance to New York, to new Yorkers and to jazz. There is also a short video cut of Gopnik’s documentary (with some superb photographs).
Take the A Train was, of course, one of Duke Ellington’s great standards, and so here, for no reason other than it is a good opportunity, are six different versions of the piece from, respectively, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Anita O’Day, Sarah Vaughan and the Duke himself. The Ella Fitzgerald version, in particular, like the Gopnik documentary, is a treat.
The photo at the top is of Donald Byrd on an A train taken by William Claxon in 1959.