Reimagine the wild jazz that came pouring out of speakeasies and cabarets of Chicago and New York City in the 1920s, forever changing the face of American music, as Ghost Train Orchestra swings by for a prohibition-era party that promises everything but the cigarette smoke. Whisper the secret password to enter MASS MoCA’s Dré Pavilion on Saturday, July 2, at 8pm, as this 11-piece ensemble fires up its brass for a celebration as great as Gatsby’s.
With a new spin on vintage jazz that modernizes a classic sound, there is perhaps no band that commemorates the 1920s better than Ghost Train Orchestra. Fans rave about the band’s ability to revitalize almost-forgotten works, capturing the spirit of the 1920s in a way like no other. The Boston Phoenix said, “It’s music from the heart of the Jazz Age that still has a raucous immediacy.”
Drawing his influences from the musical greats of the ’20s, such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, band leader and creator Brian Carpenter founded Ghost Train Orchestra in 2006 — the same year he was charged with producing an event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the historic Regent Theater in Boston. For that night, he chose the work of five composers from the late 1920s jazz era in Chicago and Harlem, and began to arrange the music for a 9-piece ensemble to perform on stage. The tremendous audience reaction to the band’s first appearance at the Regent encouraged Carpenter to keep going. The result is Ghost Train Orchestra, which now performs regularly in and around New York City. Sometimes they take on classics such as Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.
In 2008, the band had the opportunity to record at Avatar Studios in New York City with producer Danny Blume, releasing its first album, Hothouse Stomp, in 2011. Since then, the now 11-piece Ghost Train Orchestra has released two more albums —The Book of Rhapsodies in 2013 that highlights “chamber jazz” from the mid-to-late 1930s, and Hot Town, an excursion of more Roaring ’20s compositions that debuted in 2015. As Andrew Gilbert from The Boston Globe notes, “Over the past five years the group has honed a singular repertoire of tunes shaped by the cultural ferment unleashed by Prohibition and the rise of urban African-American culture in the north.”
Foxtrot your way to the Roaring ’20s when Ghost Train Orchestra takes the stage at MASS MoCA’s Dré Pavilion (or up in Club B10 if it rains) on Saturday, July 2, at 8pm. Dinner is available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Bright Ideas Brewing beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $12 in advance and for students, $18 day of, and $24 preferred. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays through June 24, 2016. Beginning June 25, the box office will be open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during box office hours or purchased online at massmoca.org. All events are held rain or shine.