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Jimmy Forest Takes the Night Train

Jimmy Forrest‘s “Night Train” is an iconic recording in the world of jazz, known for its lasting impact and status as a jazz standard. Recorded in 1951 and released in 1953, “Night Train” quickly became a major hit, significantly boosting Forrest’s career and cementing his place in jazz history.

The composition of “Night Train” is often attributed to Jimmy Forrest, although it was co-written with Lewis Simpkins and Oscar Washington. This track is an adaptation of a part of Duke Ellington’s “Happy-Go-Lucky Local,” a piece itself based on the traditional American folk song “The Wabash Cannonball.” Forrest’s version, however, stands out for its distinctive, rhythmic saxophone line, which became a hallmark of the track.

The recording of “Night Train” features notable musicians alongside Forrest. On bass were Hershel Harris and Johnny Mixon, while Oscar Oldham provided the drum beats. The congas and bongos were played by Bob Reagan and Percy James, adding a unique texture to the rhythm section of the piece​​.

“Night Train” had a profound impact on Jimmy Forrest’s career. Not only did it become a top hit on the R&B charts, but it also secured Forrest’s reputation as a talented saxophonist and composer. The track’s success opened doors for him to perform with other jazz greats and to further develop his career as a solo artist.

Beyond its impact on Forrest’s career, “Night Train” has become a significant piece in the jazz repertoire. It has been covered and interpreted by numerous artists, spanning various genres, showcasing its enduring appeal and versatility. The song’s catchy rhythm and memorable melody have made it a favorite among jazz enthusiasts and musicians alike, ensuring its status as a timeless classic in the jazz canon

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