Taking the A Train

Horn players on the A train (Photo by Tequila Minsky via The Villager)

Horn players on the A train (Photo by Tequila Minsky via The Villager)

A lucky group of straphangers and some special guests got a trip back in history on a 1930s-era “A” train Dec. 6, to the accompaniment of jazz musicians. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Billy Strayhorn, who wrote the classic “Take the A Train,” reports Tequila Minsky in The Villager.

Seven years after the opening of the A subway line, Duke Ellington gave jazz composer and musician Strayhorn directions on how to get to a new job in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem. This was the inspiration for Strayhorn’s famous standard, which became the Ellington band’s signature tune and a soundtrack of sorts for millions of straphangers.

Jazz artists the Donald Malloy Quartet and the Evan Sherman Entourage, part of the M.T.A.’s Music Under New York program, greeted subway riders at the 145th St. and Amsterdam Ave. station platform as they entered the cars provided by the New York Transit Museum, complete with wicker seating and vintage advertising.

When the train took off around 5 p.m. the musicians joined the crowded train, playing in two cars, sometimes serenading select riders during the entire A train express ride with stops from W. 145th St. to Columbus Circle.

Go to The Villager for a closer look at the interior of the vintage subway cars.


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