Take The “A” Train – 1976

Sun Ra and his Arkestra

An unusual version of Duke Ellington’s theme song

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Sun Ra (1914-93) was a unique figure in jazz and music history.

An innovative keyboardist and bandleader who helped pioneer the avant-garde in the mid-to-late 1950s, he had a philosophy (and costumes) that mixed together ancient Egypt with futuristic science fiction.

Sun Ra made it hard for the more straight-laced members of the jazz community to take him seriously due to his often-abstract statements and the erratic release of his recordings, making it difficult for one to discover just how far ahead of his time he really was.

On this performance from the 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival of “Take The ‘A’ Train, Ra creates a very original piano introduction (which in spots briefly hints at Duke Ellington) and then turns tenor-saxophonist John Gilmore loose; Clifford Jarvis also takes a heated drum solo.

-Scott Yanow


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