Exposé Online banner

Ghost Train Orchestra — Book of Rhapsodies, Vol II
(Accurate Records , 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-12-09

Book of Rhapsodies, Vol II Cover art

When it comes to the music of the 1930s, names like Duke Ellington and Count Basie come readily to mind, and their music is readily available. But during that era, many other composers and bandleaders were filling ballrooms and making 78RPM records. Brian Carpenter and his Ghost Train Orchestra are on a mission to bring the forgotten gems of that era to light, digging through dusty bins of old 78s and painstakingly transcribing the music found on them. But their goal is not to reproduce the old music note for note — they aim to interpret the tunes through a modern lens and have fun doing it. They are entertainers, not historians. After all, the 78s still exist, so if you want to hear the originals, you can seek them out. (Many are becoming available online in digital repositories.) In addition to Carpenter, who plays trumpet, the Orchestra consists of Mazz Swift (violin), Ben Kono (alto saxophone), Dennis Lichtman (clarinet), Petr Cancura (saxophone), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), Ron Caswell (tuba), Avi Bortnick (guitar), Michael Bates (bass), Rob Garcia (drums), and Rob Reich (accordion). A number of vocalists also participate, including a chorus of children for “Kindergarten Flower Pageant.” Yeah, they’re having fun. Much like in an old-time radio broadcast, there are occasional announcements to introduce a tune, done in an appropriately deadpan tone even if the words are a little goofy. The main anachronism in the arrangements is the occasional prominence of electric guitar, which sometimes takes on a distorted tone that would not have been possible during the original era. That’s an observation, not a criticism — in no way does it detract from the quality of the album. A number of groups have lately been plying similar streams of music (Microscopic Septet comes to mind), but Carpenter’s ensemble has their own twist on it, and their own unique identity. All of the players are excellent (Swift stands out on several songs with some outstanding solos), and they dive into the material with a spirit of adventure and joy that shines through. Take a break from distortion and electronic trickery and get a taste for how people had fun 80 or so years ago. Bonus points if you wear vintage threads...


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Curtis Hasselbring (Curha), Ghost Train Orchestra

Latest news

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Coco Roussel - Reaching Beyond – Roussel may be best known as the drummer for Happy the Man in their final phase, and the work he did with Kit Watkins on some of his first solo projects. This is his first album since Kit & Coco's...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues