About this project
BOOK OF RHAPSODIES...
A new recording by BRIAN CARPENTER'S GHOST TRAIN ORCHESTRA
We are the Ghost Train Orchestra and we need your support!
In 2006 I was hired to be the musical director for the 90th anniversary of a historical theater in Boston. I decided to rearrange lost treasures from the late 1920s Chicago and Harlem and rearrange them for a 10-piece band I called the Ghost Train Orchestra. It was an incredible run of shows, but because of the size of the band, years went by before I could afford to record and mix it properly. Finally, last year we released our first CD Hothouse Stomp: The Music of 1920s Chicago and Harlem. Following the great success of that album, I was able to break even on the expenses and embark on developing arrangements for a second album.
Book of Rhapsodies is our second effort, a hugely ambitious concept album of reimaginings of the work of four composers from 1935-1942 whose work straddled the line between jazz and classical music: Alec Wilder, Charlie Shavers, Reginald Foresythe, and Raymond Scott. Their music was unclassifiable, strange, beautiful, adventurous, and innovative. Some of the pieces I chose have not been released since the original 78s and in the case of Alec Wilder and Reginald Foresythe, some of the music has been lost and sadly forgotten.
Until now...after 16 months of research, transcribing, and rearranging, I can say that Book of Rhapsodies is my most fully-realized and ambitious project to date. I've retooled these amazing treasures for the Ghost Train Orchestra, 12 members strong. The ensemble includes musicians I've been playing with for many years, who have worked with me in the New York area over the years developing this music through live performances. This time around I brought in bassist Michael Bates (a bandleader himself),violist Tanya Kalmanovitch (Home, Anthony Coleman), and an old friend of 20 years, guitarist Avi Bortnick (of John Scofield's band).
In addition, I've added a small choir of vocalists to support the songs, including Yolanda Scott, Katie Seiler, Joe Chappel and Tomas Cruz (both currently on tour with the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson opera Einstein on the Beach.) Last April we were able to record the fundamentals with the orchestra. But that was just the first step. In order to finish the recording and make these orchestral expansions possible, we need your support. This recording is our effort to document the work so this music can have a life beyond the local performances.
Your donation will go toward the following:
- Paying the musicians and engineer (see list below) for the studio time
- Paying for the studio cost to finish recording, mixing, and mastering the album
- Designing and print beautiful booklets containing original artwork by Noah Woods plus photographs and a history of the music
- Documenting the studio recordings and performances so that this music can have a life beyond our local performances
The album will be engineered and mixed by Grammy-award winner Danny Blume, who mixed and co-produced our first album Hothouse Stomp. You'll also be supporting an orchestra made up of a group of incredible musicians who have collectively collaborated with David Byrne, Elvis Costello, Michael Gira, Philip Glass, Frank London, Joe Morris, Swans, Jay-Z, James "Blood" Ulmer, and John Zorn. Several of the band (Brian, Petr, Curtis, Ron, and Brandon) are founding members who played on our very first show back in 2006 at the Regent Theater in Boston.
The Book of Rhapsodies band includes:
Brian Carpenter, trumpets, voice, conducting
Andy Laster, alto saxophone, flute
Dennis Lichtman, clarinet
Petr Cancura, tenor saxophone, clarinet
Mazz Swift, violin, alto voice
Tanya Kalmanovitch, viola
Curtis Hasselbring, trombone
Ron Caswell, tuba
Avi Bortnick, guitar
Brandon Seabrook, banjo
Michael Bates, double bass
Rob Garcia, drums
Katie Seiler, soprano voice
Yolanda Scott, soprano voice
Tomas Cruz, tenor voice
Joe Chappel, bass voice
From all of us, thank you so much for your engagement, curiosity, and support.
Brian Carpenter and the Ghost Train Orchestra
A photo selection of a few of the amazing rewards coming your way...
WHAT THE PRESS HAVE BEEN SAYING...
Some Press From Our Last Album, Hothouse Stomp:
NPR's Top Ten Jazz Albums of 2011:
"The Ghost Train Orchestra, an initiative of the trumpeter and composer Brian Carpenter, plays music scored by largely forgotten composers and arrangers. It's weird and unfamiliar music; not quite big-band swing, not quite early New Orleans polyphony, it rewards the close listener with unexpected twists and turns." -- Patrick Jarenwattananon, All Things Considered
Boston Phoenix Top Ten Jazz Acts of 2011:"This is music from the heart of the Jazz Age that still has a raucous immediacy. In fact, just about every track on the band's Hothouse Stomp (Accurate) has the hookiness of a pop hit." -- Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
"If your musical tastes lean towards the dance-friendly jazzy, or blues-drenched and blearly (or really, anything in between), this album is a must." -- Oliver Amnuayphol, The Sound Room
"Carpenter leads a suberb band of New York-based vanguardists and while most of the solos ditch period authenticity and employ a vocabulary that contains ideas from the next 90 years of jazz history, his sharp arrangements retain the contrapuntal flash, sweet voicings, and fiery rhythms of the original era..." -- Peter Margasak, Downbeat
"The music gathered and interpreted on this thoroughly winning disc all comes from a period before the emergence of the big-band jazz sound.Just about every track is full of those kinds of musical treats and surprises, and it all adds up to a relentlessly rollicking good time." -- Rick Anderson, All Music Guide
"Brian Carpenter is a multi-faceted artist, musician, composer, arranger, film director, radio producer and more. In short, he's a guy who follows his muse. In this case, that muse is jazz of the 1920s and I'm mighty thankful he took this detour. Hothouse Stomp is a loving tip of the cap to some of the unsung greats of Harlem and Chicago's South Side...the only thing better than hearing this recording would be seeing the band live." -- Frank Alkyer, Downbeat
"A trip through 1920s Chicago and Harlem...Carpenter selected, transcribed, arranged, and conducted tunes made semi-famous by bands that have faded into semi-obscurity...one must stop and remind oneself: This crazy-beautiful living-history lesson sprang from Brian Carpenter's mind. Wow." -- Steve Greenlee, Boston Globe
WATCH A LIVE PERFORMANCE AT JALOPY...
Here's a video of a live performance from our show at the gorgeous Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn (filmed shortly after the Kickstarter interview above!) This is a rearrangement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Movement 2 originally envisioned for jazz orchestra by John Kirby and Charlie Shavers in 1941...arranged and performed in 2012 by the Ghost Train Orchestra.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge will be meeting a May deadline if we release in September. (If we want to release in April, we have a January deadline, which we'll shoot for but may not make.) We have to fund for and finish the following:
- Instrumental rehearsal and recording
- Choir rehearsal and recording
- Designing and printing the booklet
- Mastering the recording
After we've met the deadline for the album, we'll then start creating the remainder of the rewards which have not yet been completed (t-shirts and artwork lithograph prints).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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