Chopin meets Raymond Scott meets The Swingle Singers - what’s not to like?

Label: Accurate  Records

Time:12 tracks / 44:15
The Ghost Train Orchestra celebrates its decade of creating unique music with a delightfully quirky collection of songs that seem to jump right out of the collective unconscious of our shared childhood, featuring the crazier side of jazz and pop from the early 1900s in delightfully faithful-to-the-era arrangements by Brian Carpenter. Echoes of the kinds of sounds that often found their way onto the soundtracks of Hal Roach Studio comedies and Fleischer Studio animation haunt the unusual recording.

The unmistakable signature sound of Raymond Scott, whose work was often a feature of early Warner Brothers cartoons, starts the party off with “Confusion Among a Fleet of Taxicabs,” a manic romp filled with auto horn mini-riffs and the authentically-busy drumming of Rob Garcia (who does an impressive job throughout the recording). Scott’s contemporary, Alec Wilder, is featured four times here and exhibits a similarly frenetic compositional style, but is also capable of more lilting melodies, like on “Walking Home in Spring,” which features the sweet swing-jazz inspired violin of Mazz Swift.

Adding to the eclectic arrangements is the occasional presence of an adult choir, causing “Fantasy Impromptu” to sound like Chopin meets Raymond Scott meets The Swingle Singers - an ambitious and striking track, to be sure, and a highlight of the project.

Interspersed on the album are occasional verbal introductions that are a bit distracting and sound somewhat like the narration on a 1950s public service educational film. Possibly a small misstep, but not enough to keep you away from this fine bit of jazzy nostalgia by The Ghost Train Orchestra.

To say the least, this is an enjoyable and unique album, featuring wonderful playing and interesting compositions by some fascinating and too-often overlooked composers.
Bert Saraco

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