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Album Review

Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra, 'Hothouse Stomp'

March 14, 2011

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Trumpeter Brian Carpenter of Arlington is known as the founder of avant-jazz group Beat Circus, though he’s also a singer, actor, radio producer, and filmmaker. His latest project, Ghost Train Orchestra, grew out of his stint as music director for Voltaic Vaudeville, the Regent Theatre’s 90th birthday celebration. “Hothouse Stomp,’’ the resultant album, is 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 — Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra, Tiny Parham and His Musicians, and others. Ghost Train Orchestra infuses a postmodern sensibility into the oompah construct of “Stop Kidding’’ and gets slow and sensual on “Hot Tempered Blues.’’ When clarinet, tuba, banjo, violin, viola, trumpet, trombone, saxophones, and drums get all drowsy on “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You?’’ then play like demented Muppets on “Lucky 3-6-9,’’ one must stop and remind oneself: This crazy-beautiful living-history lesson sprang from Brian Carpenter’s mind. Wow. (Out now) STEVE GREENLEE

ESSENTIAL “Hot Tempered Blues’’