Saturday, September 27, 2014

Book of Rhapsodies

CD front: Accurate Records, CD c-7866edc (2013)
The late 1930s and early 1940s were the highlight of swing jazz in the U.S.A. and the big band was considered the essential combination for creating and performing elaborate arrangements of swing music. Bandleaders like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie among many others had success with their orchestras' formula of swing, however, if the big band version of swing jazz had become mainstream, the development and renewal of jazz was assigned to smaller ensembles. Such an ensemble was bassist John Kirby' Sextet which performed highly elaborate arrangements of swing jazz by very skilled musicians.

The John Kirby Sextet
The Sextet resided and performed at the Onyx Club in New York and released many records of high musical standard from 1937 to 1942. John Kirby and his men were popular with both the public and critics, the orchestra was often promoted as 'the biggest little band in the land', probably to match the general demand for big band swing music. The musical arrangements of the ensemble were mostly prepared by the trumpet player of the group, Charlie Shavers, who also composed one of the sextet's popular hits, 'Undecided', since then a part of the swing standard book.

Charlie Shavers
Charlie Shavers' skills as a musician, arranger and composer helped extending his outlook into other areas than jazz and popular music at the time. He made new arrangements of themes from classical music and incoporated them in the repertoire of the sextet's performance and recordings, well-developed examples of what has been called 'chamber jazz'. Some of this more experimental work by Shavers is almost forgotten today, however, there are three examples in new arrangements for big band included on the shown CD above by Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra. The CD further includes music by three other extraordinary composers and arrangers, who experimented with influences from other sources than jazz in the late 1930s - they are Raymond Scott, Alec Wilder and Reignald Foresythe. - Here's an
example of The Ghost Train Orchestra's version of one of Charlie Shavers'classical inspired tunes featured on the CD -

The Ghost Train Orchestra was founded in 2006 by Brian Carpenter , who is a composer, arranger, producer, engineer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Brian Carpenter is the trumpeter, arranger and director of the Ghost Train Orchestra, a New York based big band featuring four reed players, three brass (trumpet, trombone and tuba), violin and viola, guitar, double bass and drums - more about the musicians of the orchestra, here

Brian Carpenter conducting The Ghost Train Orchestra (photo by Peter Ganushkin)
The Ghost Train Orchestra released its first CD in 2011 on the Accurate Records label, the CD was titled Hot House Stomp and contained new arrangements of mostly forgotten jazz compositions from the 1920s originally played by Chicago or Harlem based big bands like Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Fess Williams’ Royal Flush Orchestra, and Tiny Parham and His Musicians
CD front: Hot House Stomp, Accurate Records (2011)
The CD was well received by both critics and the public and has contributed to a renewed interest in research of unexpected great music of the past that otherwise would have been left to oblivion or the dusty shelves of excentric collectors of 78 rpm records.

In 2013 The Ghost Train Orchestra released its second CD, the above shown Book of Rhapsodies containing Brian Carpenter’s arrangements and modernistic reimaginings of four unusual ensembles from the late 1930s: The Alec Wilder Octet, The John Kirby Sextet, The Raymond Scott Quintette, and Reginald Foresythe and His New Music. The orchestra has been enlarged with a six-piece choir in some of the tracks, and Brian Carpenter explains his idea with the project this way: " On the surface, this project is about rescuing some long forgotten compositions from the late 1930s on 78s and rearranging them for performance and recording in the present. But it goes beyond that into interpretation and improvisation and in some cases, radical re-imagining. The whole project started when I came across the surreal and beautiful late 1930s chamber jazz of Alec Wilder. I started collecting the original 78s and became a Wilder evangelist, telling everyone I knew about him. From there I found four other bandleaders active during that time who were working in a similar vein (unusual instrumentation, hybrid between jazz and classical.)"

Alec Wilder
Alec Wilder (1907-1980) was an American composer, largely self taught and writing popular songs like "I'll Be Around" (a hit for the Mills Brothers), "While We're Young" (recorded by Peggy Lee and many others), "Blackberry Winter", "Where Do You Go?" (recorded by Frank Sinatra) and "It's So Peaceful in the Country". In addition to writing popular songs, Wilder also composed classical pieces for exotic combinations of orchestral instruments. The Alec Wilder Octet, including Mitch Miller on oboe, recorded several of his originals for Brunswick Records in 1938-40. More info on Alec Wilder including music examples at this website - There are four examples of Wilder's strange music with funny and surreal titles included on The Ghost Train Orchestra's Book of Rhapsodies. I'll insert an example of the Wilder Octet's recording of his composition titled 'Her Old Man Was Suspicious' from 1941, and then the version by Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra 

Here is the version of the same tune as played by The Ghost Train Orchestra and featured on the Book of Rhapsodies CD

Among the twelve tracks of the CD there are also three compositions by Raymond Scott (1908-1994), another excentric composer and bandleader, who excelled in both jazz and popular music besides being a producer and sound engineer. His music has been rediscovered and recorded in later years by the Dutch Beau Hunks orchestra, and the Ghost Train Orchestra contributes with excellent re-arrangements of Scott's 'At An Arabian House Party', 'The Happy Farmer' and the futuristic 'Celebration on the Planet Mars' originally recorded by Raymond Scott's Quintette late 1930s - here's the version of the last mentioned by The Ghost Train Orchestra as recorded on the Book of Rhapsodies CD

There are further two compositions by Reignald Forsythe (1907-1958) featured on the Book of Rhapsodies CD.

Reignald Foresythe
Reignald Foresythe was a British jazz pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader who spent part of his career in the U.S.A.. In the second half of the 1920s he played piano in Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders in California, he wrote songs as well and one of them, 'Deep Forest', was arranged for and recorded by Earl Hines' orchestra. Foresythe also arranged scores for Paul Whiteman and recorded with Benny Goodman, John Kirby, and Gene Krupa. In Britain he spent much of his career on the dance band scene but he also assembled a studio recording group called "The New Music Of Reginald Foresythe". Between 1933-1936 he recorded for UK Columbia and UK Decca, usually spotlighting his own unusual jazzy tone poems. Among the more well known were "Serenade To A Wealthy Widow," "Garden Of Weed," "Dodging a Divorcee," and "Revolt Of The Yes-Men." His recordings featured reeds and sax, but no horns. 

Reignald Foresythe may be forgotten today, but Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra relcorded two of his characteristic compositions from the 'New Music' ensemble - 'Volcanic (Eruption for Orchestra)' and 'Revolt of the Yes Men'. Together with the remaining material on the CD this music sets spotlight on some unusual contributions to jazz and popular music of the late 1930s, here excellently performed by the skilled musicians featured in The Ghost Train Orchestra guided by Brian Carpenter. The title of the CD points to a musical form not in vogue in contemporary music, however, the musical rhapsody defined as an episodic instrumental composition of indefinite form fits well with the contents of the CD, I think.

The Book of Rhapsodies is the second CD from Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra and released in 2013. The music contained in the twelve tracks of the CD features compositions from the repertoire of four unusual ensembles from the late 1930s: John Kirby's Sextet, Raymond Scott's Quintette, Alec Wilder's Octet and Reignald Foresythe's 'New Music' ensemble, everything arranged for The Ghost Train Orchestra by Brian Carpenter and excellently performed. - The CD may need a couple of listening through to get used to the music, but repeated listening definitly is rewarding. The CD is an example of contemporary music with roots in a branch of unusual music that otherwise would have been expelled to the growing field of oblivion - and a guideline to the possible development of future projects in jazz.- The CD is available for purchase at the website of the Ghost Train Orchestra.

Retrospect Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nagedachtenis - Hans Koert overleden

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
Nederland verliest een groot jazzkenner en een aimabel mens    

Op 4 september j.l. kwam het droeve bericht dat Hans Koert op 63-jarige leeftijd in zijn woonplaats Heinkenszand na een ernstige ziekte is overleden.

Zijn heengaan is een gevoelig verlies voor allen die serieus in jazz- en aanverwante muziek zijn geïnteresseerd. Want Hans was, naast zijn werk als docent, uiterst actief als een publicist/verzamelaar en als geen ander op de hoogte van wat er op jazzgebied omging.

Ik noem allereerst zijn passie voor gitarist Oscar Alemán, van wie hij de complete  verzameling opnamen bezat, alle details over diens leven kende en zelfs contact met zijn familie in Argentinië onderhield. Als hommage bracht Hans in 2002 een uitgebreide discografie van Oscar’s werk uit.

Voorts was er zijn “Hit of the Week” project (het digitaliseren van alle vroegere hits op Duriumplaten van de jaren 1930-32). Hij completeerde dit enorme project in 2011 waarbij al deze platen op vier dubbel-cd’s werden uitgebracht; een eerste volledige discografie.

Maar de grootste bekendheid verkreeg Hans door zijn weblogs die vanaf ca. 2006 uitkwamen onder de naam “Keep (it) Swinging" . Daarin publiceerde hij regelmatig gedetailleerde artikelen zoals bijvoorbeeld over Oscar Alemán, Choro Music en ‘Hits of the Week’. Deze werden gevolgd door frekwente publicaties over talloze jazzmusici en orkesten, zowel traditioneel als eigentijds en ook door verslagen van bijzondere jazzconcerten.

De blogs waren rijkelijk geïllustreerd met foto’s (veelal door hem zelf gemaakt) en bevatten vaak zeldzame audio-fragmenten van historische waarde. Door daarnaast Engelse versies uit te geven kreeg “Keep (it) Swinging” ook internationale aandacht en respons. In totaal verschenen er vanaf het begin zo’n 2000 blogs van zijn hand en men kan zich voorstellen wat een immens werk Hans daaraan moet hebben gehad. De laatste jaren bracht hij trouwens ook nog digitale ‘Nieuwsbrieven’ uit.

Ik werkte zelf met Hans samen voor mijn artikelen over de vooroorlogse Franse jazz en dat contact verliep steeds perfect en met humor. Op bezoek bij hem heb ik met bewondering zijn uitgebreide reeks naslagwerken bekeken. Samen waren wij in 2010 aanwezig bij het unieke concert in Dongen, ter gelegenheid van het 100e geboortejaar van Django Reinhardt.

Door mijn uitwisseling met Hans kwam ik vele jaren geleden in contact met Jorgen Larsen uit Denemarken, met wie ik veel uitwissel..Van hem werden niet alleen Engelstalige artikelen gepubliceerd, maar hij nam zelfs taken van Hans over (bijv. tijdens vakanties). Op verzoek van Hans zal Jorgen weblogs blijven verzorgen, zodat “Keep it Swinging” niet stopt.

Ik zal Hans missen, niet alleen vanwege zijn grote jazzkennis, maar ook als vriend en ik  wens zijn vrouw Corrie veel sterkte met dit verlies – Hans blijft zeker in ons aller gedachten.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Georg Lankester

Monday, September 15, 2014

In Memoriam Hans Koert - by Georg Lankester

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
Hans Koert  deceased   

Holland has lost a great jazz specialist and a warm person   

On September 4, 2014 the sad news arrived that Hans Koert, at the age of 63 years, passed away in his residence Heinkenszand (Holland) after a serious disease.

His decease is a sore loss for all those who are really interested in jazz and related music, because Hans – apart from his profession as a teacher – was a dynamic publicist/collector and always well-informed about both the historical and contemporary jazz.

First of all Hans’ great passion for guitarist Oscar Alemán should be mentioned. Not only did he possess the complete collection of Alemáns’ recordings, but he knew every detail about the artist and even maintained contact with his relatives in Argentina..

As an homage Hans released an extensive discography on Oscars’ records in 2002..

Next  there was his “Hit of the Week” project (creation of a digital file of the old flexible ‘Durium’ records from the years 1930/32). Hans completed this huge project in 2011 whereby all recordings were issued on four double CDs.-  the first complete discography ever.
However, Hans’ activities became widely known when he started to release regulalrly weblogs from 2006 under the name “Keep (it) Swinging. These detailed blogs both in Dutch and English included info on Oscar Alemán, ‘Choro’ (Music from Brazil) and ‘Hits of the Week’.

Later these blogs were followed by interesting publications on jazz artists and bands, of both traditonal or contemparary origin and also reports on special concerts were released.
The blogs included many photos (Hans was also an excellent photographer and always had an eye for well chosen pictures to accompany the texts) and often rare audio fragments of historical value were inserted to complete the texts. By releasing English translations as well, “Keep (it) Swinging” received  international attention and feed-back. In total more than  2000 blogs were published and one can imagine how much work this must have represented. The last few years also digital Newsletters have been published.

I worked together with Hans for my publications on the pre-WW2  French jazz and our contact was always pleasant and full of humour. During a visit to his home it was impressive to find  so many reference books and records. I also remember that we both attended that unique concert which was given to celebrate the 100 years’ anniversary of Django Reinhardt’s birth.

Through my frequent exchange with Hans, I came into contact with Jorgen Larsen from Denmark.with whom I alo cooperate in jazz projects. Over the years Jorgen and Hans made and issued blogs together. That’s why Hans, prior to his passing away, asked Jorgen to continue his project, so fortunately “Keep (it) Swinging” will live on.

I shall miss Hans, not only beause of his great knowledge of jazz, but as a friend.and I wish his wife, Corrie, much strength in these difficult times. But with me, many others will always remember Hans with great respect.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Georg Lankester

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Memory of Hans Koert, September 2014

Dear readers,

I have collected some of the notifications according Hans Koert's passing on September 4th, 2014. The following is a list of quotes from people who have reacted in forwarded e-mails or as comments on some of Hans' weblogs.

So sorry to hear of Hans’ passing. He was dedicated to bringing us all a little closer to the musicians we all have known and loved over the years. His enthusiasm was boundless and his seemingly endless supply of good humor came across, even in his writing. He will be missed. - Malcolm Rockwell 

Through the distance, my condolences for Hans` wife, his family and friends.- Luis ‘Tito’ Liber 

What sad news. Unfortunately, I never met Hans, but I admire the Oscar Alemán page. - Sincerely yours Sergio Pujol.

We are really sorry to hear this. Hans was the ultimate "alemaniac" as he always posted on the blog. He gave a lot to the memory of Oscar Aleman and many other artists on the Keep swinging blog. A lot of interesting information with a lot of love and passion were behind every post. He will be remembered. Our condolences to Corrie. - José Iacona 

Thank you for this sad information. Our condolences to you and to Corrie.Best wishes, Richard and Meagan Hennessey, Archeophone Records

My sincerest condolences on Hans Koert’s passing. - Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

I am really sorry to know about Hans Koert's passing, please give my condolences to his family.- Michele Ariodante

 blog comments:
Thank you for sharing this sad news with us, he will be missed. My condolences to friends and family. - 

It is a great loss and we will miss him a lot. - Jorgelina Alemán, Daniel Cossarini 

Hans, Your work and legacy will never stop swinging. - Lao Iacona.

Una muy lamentable noticia, siempre te recordaremos, nuestras condolencia a su familia. - Hot Club de Boedo 

Hans Koert did an incredible work to preserve the memory and career of Oscar Aleman. Thanks for everything Hans! Rest in peace. - José Iacona


Thanks for your support!

My personal farewell in still footage and music. Thanks for everything, dear friend!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hans Koert (1951 - 2014)

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
Dear readers,

I had the sad news this afternoon that Hans Koert passed away this morning. Hans Koert died from complications caused by a lung cancer that has kept him inactive at his website and blogs for some months. I have lost a dear friend, however, my thoughts and condolences in this difficult hour I forward to Corrie, Hans' wife, 

If you wish to express your compassion or send a condolence notification, I will state Corrie's postal address below. You may also state your message by notifying me at the e-mail address below, then I'll forward your message to Corrie. As always, you can also use the comment facility at the blog, if you prefer this solution.

Hans Koert was the founder and main editor of the Keep Swinging website including under-webs and blogs. Before it was too late, I promised Hans to continue his work the best I can. If you have questions or comments regarding this, please feel free to contact me in an e-mail.

Here is the postal address of Corrie Koert:

Ms. Corrie Koert
Torenvalkstee 8
NL-4451 CM Heinkenszand
The Netherlands

The e-mail address to send condolence notification or questions, please use this:

Thank you for your support!

Jørgen Larsen