Book of Rhapsodies Vol. II is Ghost Train Orchestra's fourth album, following their highly acclaimed album Hot Town (2015). In this adventurous installment, Ghost Train Orchestra performs Brian Carpenter's surreal and modernistic re-imaginings of five unusual ensembles from the late 1930s: The Hal Herzon Septet, The Alec Wilder Octet, The John Kirby Sextet, The Raymond Scott Quintette, and Reginald Foresythe and His New Music.
Decades before composer Gunther Schuller coined the term "Third Stream" to describe a genre straddling the line between jazz and classical music, New York was the epicenter of a new movement of composers whose work seemed to exist outside the margins. In the late 1930s, a group of forward- thinking composers began creating small ensembles with unorthodox instrumentation to realize some of the strangest and most evocative music of the period.
Full of loving attention to detail, contemporary energy and attitude, plus state-of-the-art production, Book of Rhapsodies Vol. II picks up where Book of Rhapsodies left off in 2013, creating a rarely-heard genre of tone poems and chamber music for orchestra and choir. Produced by Brian Carpenter and mixed by Grammy-award winner Danny Blume, the album delivers the rich experience of transporting the listener to the past and using that past to transform the future. Acclaimed artist Noah Woods created the cover and booklet artwork inspired by the many strange and descriptive song titles. Book of Rhapsodies Vol II will be enjoyed by a young audience interested in exploring outside the mainstream of today's rock, pop, and jazz.
All three of Ghost Train Orchestra's previous albums featured on several top ten lists: NPR, New York Jazz Record, Boston Globe, Jazz Times, Burning Ambulance, and Stereophile. After leader Brian Carpenter was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross in 2011, their debut album reached the top 10 of the Billboard Jazz charts in the weeks following.
DownBeat raved "Carpenter and his little big big band don't just recreate musical museum pieces; they breathe fire and life into this amazing music." Burning Ambulance listed Book of Rhapsodies in their top ten of 2013, writing "Carpenter is on a mission...rooting out obscurities and tweaking the arrangements until they pop like fireworks." Of Book ofRhapsodies, Andrew Velez of New York City Jazz Record wrote, "This is an amazing ensemble, playing music like no others these days, creating their own electrifying musical gold."
The Ghost Train Orchestra was formed in 2006; since then the band has performed in New York and festivals and venues across the country, including last year's standing room only show at the Chicago Jazz Festival. Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording Studio recorded Book of Rhapsodies after a string of monthly shows. Carpenter transcribed the originals and then completely rearranged and reassembled the pieces for orchestra and choir. The album features an outstanding roster of talent: violinist Mazz Swift, alto saxophonist Ben Kono, clarinetist Dennis Lichtman, saxophonist Petr Cancura, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, tubist Ron Caswell, guitarist Avi Bortnick, bassist Michael Bates, drummer Rob Garcia, and accordionist Rob Reich.
Carpenter is the founder of the Boston-based band Beat Circus that recorded a "Weird American Gothic" trilogy of dark Americana albums. He also leads Brian Carpenter & the Confessions, a rock band formed in Boston with Carpenter as the lead singer and lyricist. In addition, he hosts his radio show Free Association at WZBC-FM Boston College and produces radio documentaries there, including a recent 3-hour show on sound design.