Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

1st April 2014

We will be performing in conjunction with the Nasher Museum of Art's exhibit Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist on April 4-5 in Durham, NC. The exhibit presents the remarkable paintings of Motley, a Chicago-based artist legendary for his expressive, satire-laden, jazz-inflected canvases. At the outset of the Harlem Renaissance, Motley reveled in painting Chicago's black community.

Don't miss this incredible exhibit near you...Nasher Museum of Art (Jan 30-May 11, 2014), Amon Carter Museum of American Art (June 14-Sept 7, 2014), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Oct 19 2014 - Feb 1 2015), Chicago Cultural Center (Mar 6-Aug 31 2015), Whitney Museum of American Art (Fall 2015).


Rave Reviews and Best of 2013 for Book of Rhapsodies

26th November 2013

Our new album Book of Rhapsodies (Accurate Records) has been receiving all kinds of praise, landing at #3 on the Burning Ambulance Top Jazz Albums of 2013 and on the Best Large Ensemble Releases by the New York City Jazz Record. Phil Freeman of Burning Ambulance writes "Carpenter is on a mission to make 21st Century listeners aware of just how much awesome music was being made in the early decades of the 20th by rooting out obscurities and tweaking the arrangements until they pop like fireworks." Andrew Velez of the NYC Jazz Record writes "This is an amazing ensemble, playing music like no others these days. There hasn’t been big band music as exciting as this since forever...GTO is creating its own electrifying musical gold."

In November's Downbeat Editor's Picks, Davis Inman writes "Carpenter and his collaborators find plenty of new life in these old charts and 78s...down a rabbit hole to a bizarre, charming world of nearly forgotten music from the 1930s." Bill Marx adds Book of Rhapsodies on the annual holiday gift wrap-up on ArtsFuse, writing "an impish excursion into the nooks and crannies popular music in the 1930s...a delightful trip through a retro aural funhouse." Lucid Culture describes it as a "joyous, vaudevillian ride...with a couple additional, absolutely killer tracks from the Raymond Scott catalog." Irwin Chusid, who led the rediscovery of Raymond Scott, describes Carpenter's new arrangement of Scott's composition "Celebration on the Planet Mars" (the epic 9-minute closing track on the album) as "out of this world, in every sense of the phrase...spectacular."

The CD and 16-page booklet is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at our STORE.


"Book of Rhapsodies" CD Release Show Oct 26 with The Raymond Scott Orchestrette

29th August 2013

Book of Rhapsodies is here and we've lined up an incredible CD release show on Saturday October 26th at Subculture in NYC. Guitarist Avi Bortnick (John Scofield) and bassist Michael Bates join the core orchestra for a set of Brian Carpenter's rollercoaster reimaginings of strange and beautiful chamber jazz from 1935-1942. Don't miss this incredible show with special guests. Tickets available here. More information on our EVENTS page.

Book of Rhapsodies is Ghost Train Orchestra’s second album, following their highly acclaimed debut Hothouse Stomp (2011). In this adventurous installment, Ghost Train Orchestra moves ten years ahead from their first album to perform Brian Carpenter’s modernistic reimaginings of four unusual ensembles from the late 1930s: The Alec Wilder Octet, The John Kirby Sextet, The Raymond Scott Quintette, and Reginald Foresythe and His New Music. Produced by Grammy award winner Danny Blume and featuring Carpenter’s surreal arrangements for 12-member orchestra plus choir, Book of Rhapsodies delivers the rich experience of transporting the listener to the past and using that past to transform the future. You can hear a track from the new album on our MUSIC page.

The RAYMOND SCOTT ORCHESTRETTE opens the show, performing radical reinventions of the legendary composer's animated tunes. Besides such favorites as "Powerhouse," "The Penguin," and "Twilight in Turkey," the Orchestrette features lesser-known works such as "Coming Down to Earth," "Naked City," and "A Street Corner in Paris." The Orchestrette also performs acoustic renditions of Scott's later electronic works, such as Soothing Sounds for Baby's "Little Miss Echo" — rarely heard artifacts the composer himself never performed outside the studio. The impishness and splashy colors of the originals remain, but these are all-new takes on an old master.They recently collaborated with Dance Heginbotham on their piece Manhattan Research. The Orchestrette is Wayne Barker (piano); Brian Dewan (electric zither, koto); Mike Hashim (sax); Will Holshouser (accordion); George Rush (bass); Rob Thomas (violin); Clem Waldmann (drums).

Rediscovering a Piece Unplayed... Since 1929

17th June 2013

This Friday we'll be debuting a few new pieces, including an arrangement of a recently discovered lost recording from Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten, originally recorded in May of 1929. In 2011, a 10" acetate disc was found in someone's basement with some curious etchings on it, including the victor code BVE-53600. This was either the master or a test pressing. According to Victor ledgers, there are two takes of this piece called "Mo'Lasses". The first take is the one found recently, which was marked "Master/destroy". There are many unanswered questions. We don't know why it was marked destroy, unless the band felt the 1st take wasn't a good performance. (Fortunately for us, it was never actually destroyed, because the performance is incredible.) There is a 2nd take floating around out there somewhere which is marked "Hold/destroy". Neither take was ever issued publicly.

Charlie Johnson led one of the great bands of the late 1920s at Small's Paradise Club located in Harlem on 135th. At that time Small's was a rival of the famous Cotton Club and it is said to have had waitresses who brought trays of bootleg liquor to your table while dancing the Charleston. It's an incredible piece of music and has probably never been performed since 1929 at Small's Paradise. We're excited to bring this piece (and many others) to life again for you all Friday night.