Ghost Train Orchestra
Book of Rhapsodies
Ah, jazz even I can appreciate! This wild and crazy recording looks back to Le Jazz Hot of the 1930s. Ghost Train Orchestra unashamedly recalls the classic styling of such semi-obscurities as The Alec Wilder Octet or The John Kirby Sextet. You immediately recognize the sound as a modern television cue that the next TV show you see will be set between the wars and filmed in New York or London with flapper dresses and low-slung touring cars. I’m looking at YOU, Bertie Wooster! Wild sliding brass instruments and a rock steady rhythm section mean this stuff excites the jazz bone, but dancing is not out of the question providing your day job involves hoofing on 42nd street.
The music is exhilarating. “Beethoven Riffs On” takes swatches from his Fifth and the Ninth and a few other Germanic opii and makes them swing in a way that the old deaf guy would never get. Vocals are limited to la’s and dah’s; they are just additional contrapunctuals to the tuba and sax that build up the base of this extensive and talented collective. “Dance Man Buys a Farm” flits and flirts along like Eva Gabor floating above Manhattan and Hooterville as an earnest but unskilled farm hand plows below, sweating and swatting flies. There’s a surf sound, slow and relaxed in “Dawn at the Desert.” The waves may not be too high, but the sand dunes tower. In the next track, “The Happy Farmer,” I almost hear Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz, but the song turns all Lost Bonzo DooDah Dog Band on me before the words start; it’s a happy hoedown that leads into “Revolt of the Yes Men.” Well, I say “Let them eat cake, the rest of us are ready to dance.”
Bring on the Ghost Train; I’m ready to look cool. Heck, I might even take up smoking. You know, so I can get a pelican-bone cigarette holder. I think FDR had one.