Hothouse Stomp (Accurate Records)

Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra

Released March 8, 2011

2011 Top 10 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll




Before the emergence of the big-bands of the 1930s, following the models of Fletcher Henderson in New York and Bennie Moten in Kansas City, a variety of visions for the larger jazz ensemble developed all over the US. Featuring smaller horn sections and less standardized rhythm sections than the later big-bands, these units had colorful and often eccentric sounds. With “Hothouse Stomp”, their debut release, Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra. performs new arrangements of music by four such seminal bands from 1920s Chicago and Harlem: Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Fess Williams’ Royal Flush Orchestra, and Tiny Parham and His Musicians.

Full of loving attention to period detail combined with utterly contemporary energy and attitude, not to mention state-of-the-art production, “Hothouse Stomp” delivers the rich experience of transporting the listener to the past and using that past to transform the future. The album was produced by Grammy award winner Danny Blume (The Klezmatics, Sex Mob). Artist Molly Crabapple, best known for founding Dr. Sketchy’s in NYC, created the lovingly detailed illustrations of the bandleaders in a CD booklet which evokes yet updates the graphic style of the 1920s. “Hothouse Stomp” will be enjoyed by a young audience exploring outside the mainstream of today’s rock, pop and jazz, as well as “purists” of early jazz. The Ghost Train Orchestra was formed in 2006 after Carpenter was selected as the musical director for Voltaic Vaudeville, an event marking the 90th anniversary of the historic Regent Theater in Arlington, MA. Since then the band has performed regularly in New York City, home of all its members except the leader, a Boston resident. “Hothouse Stomp” was recorded at Avatar Studios in Manhattan after a string of monthly shows at Brooklyn’s intimate club Barbes. Carpenter arranged the music with added strings, voice, and musical saw, all inspired by the haunting beauty of the original compositions.

Track Listing:

1. Ghost Train (Orchestra) (Brain Carpenter / Brandon Seabrook) 01:35

2. Mojo Strut (Tiny Parham) 02:56

3. Stop Kidding (John Nesbitt) 02:31

4. Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You? (Andy Razaf / Don Redman9 03:45

5. Voodoo (Tiny Parham) 03:04

6. Blues Sure Have Got Me 03:44

7. Hot Bones and Rice 04:51

8. Dixie Stomp 02:59

9. Lucky (Tiny Parham) 02:02

10. The Boy in the Boat (Don Redman) 04:43

11. Slide, Mr. Jelly Slide (Fess Williams) 02:19

12. Hot Tempered Blues (Arthur Porter) 04:08


Brian Carpenter, trumpet, arrangements
Andy Laster, alto saxopohone
Dennis Lichtman, clarinet
Matt Bauder, tenor saxophone
Curtis Hasselbring, trombone
Brandon Seabrook, banjo
Mazz Swift, violin
Jordan Voelker, viola, saw
Ron Caswell, tuba
Rob Garcia, drums

Recorded November, 2009, at Avatar Studios, New York, NY and Scotty Hard Studios, New York, NY

Produced by Danny Blume and Brian Carpenter

Engineer and Mixing: Danny Blume

Assistant Engineer: Fernando Castagno

Mastering. Allan Tucker

Photography: Frank Driggs

Design: Heung-Heung “Chippy” Chin

Illustrations: Molly Crabapple


The Ghost Train Orchestra, an initiative of the trumpeter and composer Brian Carpenter, plays music scored by largely forgotten composers and arrangers of the late 1920s. It’s fun music; there’s a peppy, charged, vaudevillian feel, and you could dance to some of it, too. It’s also 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. Carpenter largely plays it straight, at least as he discerned it from the original recordings, though some strings and a musical saw bolster his vision. Whatever he’s done, it’s a neat trick: It’s old music which somehow sounds new.

Patrick Jarenwattananon (npr)