Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Richard Brody
The motto of the Music Haven Concert Series in Schenectady’s Central Park has always been “Join us in traveling the world one concert at a time.” And the 2014 series did indeed travel from Africa to Ireland to Cuba to Chicago to Louisiana. But in wrapping up their 25th anniversary season with the Ghost Train Orchestra, the series took a slightly different tact, traveling not around the globe, but rather back in time.
The brainchild of Brian Carpenter – composer, arranger, trumpeter, vocalist – the GTO draws from the deep well of jazz by such early 20th century bandleaders as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Tiny Parham, Fess Williams, Charlie Johnson and others.
But the GTO is certainly no musty historical museum piece. They not only rumble through the repertoire with considerable skill, but they also deftly capture the original spirit of the music, tweaking the arrangements to highlight the unique quirks of the material.
Ghost Train Orchestra is a brash big band ensemble with one foot firmly planted in the past and the other in the future…
Veteran jazz vocalist Colleen Pratt opened the show with a set that proved why she’s been one of the Local 518’s fave singers for 30 years, whether singing with the Empire Jazz Orchestra, one of Doc Scanlon’s swingin’ ensembles or with her own Colleen Pratt & Friends.