All aboard for the Night Train

By Bill King

NightTrainI’d been thinking about this tune all the way back when I played a sappy society version some 50 years ago on the bandstand.

Always knew this song had some bang in it. Then James Brown put it in the soul pocket and Oscar Peterson expanded with a blues piano swing version.

Night Train is a Jimmy Forrest composition first played by the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1940 under the guise of “That’s the Blues, Old Man,” featuring the alto work of Johnny Hodges. Forrest recorded and had a rhythm & blues hit.

James Brown recorded in 1961 and dropped the original lyrics in favor of addressing various cities.

With the Rhythm Express we chose to speak to those Caribbean immigrants with close ties to Canada; that being Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the like. There are many others, but when it comes to Caribbean Carnival it’s about all of the islands.

I’ve lived in Atlanta and of course Philadelphia is the home of urban soul so they rightfully get a nod. How can we forget those soul decades in Toronto!

Toronto had a vibrant rhythm & blues / soul scene that made the clubs the place to be six nights a week back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Who can forget the Club Bluenote, Le Coq d’Or and others?

With the Express, music spins eternal. Night Train fits within our love of jazz, blues, soul, ska and reggae and we also have a grand horn section – Rebecca Hennessy trumpet, Christopher Butcher trombone and Bobby Hsu alto sax.

Toss in the fat back drumming of Everton ‘Pablo’ Paul, rock-steady bass of Jesse ‘Dubmatix’ King, guitar styling’s of Shane ‘Shaky’ Forrest, percussion of Jorge Luis Torres and keyboards from yours truly, Bill King, and you know it’s time to buy a ticket and get on board the Night Train.

That’s Michael Dunston calling out the stops, taking tickets and escorting all passengers to their seats. All you have to do is come along for the ride and enjoy the scenery!

Produced / arranged / keyboards – Bill King; engineered / guitar Shane ‘Shay’ Forrest; mixed by Shane Forrest / Bill King; cover design by Jess ’Dubmatix’ King; drums / studio Everton ‘Pablo’ Paul Sidedoor Studio; percussion, Jorge Luis Torres (Papiosco); Christopher Butcher, trombone; Rebecca Hennessy, trumpet;

Bobby Hsu, alto sax; writer(s), William Currie, Oscar Washington, Lewis C. Simpkins, Lewis Simpkins, Jimmy Forrest, Midge Ure, Will Jennings.

Copyright: Blue Sky Rider Songs, Frederick Music Co., Embassy Music Corporation, Irving Music Inc., Hot Food Music Ltd., Mood Music Ltd.

The Rhythm Express ‘Night Train 2015’ video