Night Train

I live a few block from the Mississippi River in Uptown New Orleans. We’re close to the Napoleon Avenue wharf so we hear the rumbling and whistling of freight trains several times a day. My personal favorite is the night train because it conjures up some very good musical images. Trains and music go together like peas and carrots and every pre-1965 composer or performer worth his or her salt had a train song. Two of my favorites share the same title, Night Train.(Yeah, I know, I say favorite a lot. You’ll have to get in line to tease me on that one: Dr. A’s been doing it for years.) The first tune is one of my favorite James Brown numbers, the horns evoke train whistles and faraway places with the hardest working man in show business on board as your conductor:

The secondNight Trainwas composed by Oscar Peterson and recorded with his classic trio in 1962. Oscar Peterson was *the* monster Jazz pianist and one of the most accomplished musicians I’ve ever seen. Oscar was a very large and dignified man but once he sat down at the keyboard he played like a man possessed and a very fast one at that. There were times when it sounded as if he had four hands.Night Trainis actually one of the subtler entries in the Peterson canon but you can hear the click clack of the train in Oscar’s left hand and Ray Brown’s bass:

3 thoughts on “Night Train

  1. Tres Kewl. We have the Norfolk Southern’s corridor running right next to the yard but they don’t blow the horns around here.
    For a trian song at the Fortress I go with “Locomotive Breath. “In the stifiling madness…” *grins*

  2. Trains don’t have the same panache they did before the days of air travel for the masses.
    But, post-60s, there is Randy Newman’s “Dixie Flyer.”
    And, Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans,” but, that strikes me more as a lament than a good, old-fashioned train song.

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