The Kennedy Center

Ghost Train Orchestra


The Ghost Train Orchestra was founded in 2006 by composer Brian Carpenter when he was hired as the musical director for an event marking the 90th anniversary of the historic Regent Theater in Arlington, MA. He selected five composers from a transitional time and place in America: the late 1920s Chicago and Harlem, when the jazz orchestra was being developed by bandleaders such as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Tiny Parham, Fess Williams, and Charlie Johnson. Carpenter began transcribing parts from old 78s and arranged the music for a 9-piece ensemble to back performers on stage. The reaction to the band's debut at the Regent Theater was tremendous, and since then the band has performed regularly in New York City, home of all its members except the leader, a Boston resident.

In 2008, Carpenter arranged the music with added strings, voice, and musical saw, and the following year recorded the band in New York City at Avatar Studios with engineer/producer Danny Blume (Klezmatics, Sex Mob). The result of this work accumulated in Hothouse Stomp, released on Accurate Records in 2011. The album achieved wide critical acclaim and reached the top 10 of the Billboard Jazz charts in the weeks following Carpenter's spot this year on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

The Ghost Train Orchestra is currently developing music in New York City for their second album featuring wild new arrangements of "chamber jazz" from late 1930s bandleaders Raymond Scott, Alec Wilder, and John Kirby. The Ghost Train Orchestra will be performing live on tour in the Northeast and beyond in 2011-12. 

Brian Carpenter, trumpet, harmonica, voice
Mazz Swift, violin, vocals
Curtis Hasselbring, trombone
Andy Laster, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
Dennis Lichtman, clarinet
Petr Cancura, tenor saxophone, clarinet, alto saxophone
Brandon Seabrook, tenor banjo
Ron Caswell, tuba
Rob Garcia, drums

Watch Past Performances

Video 11/16/2011: Ghost Train Orchestra

Founded by composer Brian Carpenter, the ensemble plays music from its album Hothouse Stomp featuring the music of 1920s Chicago and Harlem. A dance floor will be installed. Part of Swing, Swing, Swing.

Ghost Train Orchestra