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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ukulele Magic - Sweet Hollywaiians

CD front, Sweet Strings Rec. R-1360463
According to several sources, in his later career Oscar Alemán always had his cavaquinho with him in his live stage shows and played his "O.A. 1926" as a solo piece as part of the show. Some unissued Argentine recordings of his live-performance of this tune have been saved, here's the best and most elaborte arrangement from a radio broadcast c. 1955

The "O.A.1926" was recorded as a magnificient solo piece for ukulele by the Dutch string wizard, Ton Van Bergeyk, in 1976 for the Kicking Mule label titled 'Anno 1926', his version is close to the inserted, broadcasted take by Alemán himself. If you look up other versions of the tune at YouTube, you'll discover other versions by uke-players, one of best and most swinging is by a Japanese uke-wizard, Mario Takada, in a solo performance inserted below

Mario Takada is a member of the Sweet Hollywaiians string quartet from Osaka, Japan, specializing in 1920s and 1930s Hawaiian, swing, calypso, Italian instrumentals etc. and having released four CDs since 2008. A website introducing more info about this fabulous ensemble is available here - and the recordings are available from Amazon or/and CDBaby.

Sweet Hollywaiians
Last year the Sweet Hollywaiians has released a new short CD solely devoted to ukulele tunes, Magic Ukulele Waltz - containing most enjoyable playing and great tunes. The CD has an ensemble-version of "O.A. 1926" and a great version of GB Lobo's waltz "Criollita" plus five more excellently played tunes.

Magic Ukulele Waltz, Sweet Strings Rec., R-1360463
The CD is available for purchase here.  - As mentioned, the waltz "Criollita" by Gastón Bueno Lobo is also featured on the CD, a YouTube video by Mario Takada has the tune in a similar version, although a bit short, anyway, here it is

The title track of the CD, "Magic Ukulele Waltz", was originally composed by Roy Smeck and recorded at his Magic Ukulele LP album, since re-issued on CD. To end this small presentation of the mentioned ukulele CD by Sweet Hollywaiians, here is Mario Takada's version of the Magic Ukulele Waltz - enjoy!


If you are a fan of the Japanese string ensemble, Sweet Hollywaiians, then the latest CD with the title Magic Ukulele Waltz definitly should be a part of your collection of great music. The CD has seven tracks of excellently played tunes with the ukulele in front backed by the ensemble, the repertoire has new versions of classic swing tunes and a couple of waltzes - every track is a sheer joy to be listening to. - Highly recommended!

  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, August 20, 2014

The Record Debut of Laurindo Almeida

Laurindo Almeida
Choro, samba and other popular music genres of Brazil often seem to be categorized as 'Latin', when you browse through career profiles of artists in various sources available at the web or in short articles in printed books designated to give an overview of the musical background of a certain artist. This procedure seems to be the norm regarding musicians having their main career in jazz or popular music in the USA, however, the word 'Latin' does not state the tradition of the various musical sources supposed to be contained in the concept - in short, the 'Latin'-word is unclear and without a precise meaning, making the word easy to use by journalistst and writers appealing to a public more interested in the colour of the underwear of the artist than the musical background.

I was reminded of this, when I tried to look up information in English about the early career of Laurindo Almeida (1917-1995), the well-known Brazilian guitarist having his main career in the USA. In the general comprehension, Almeida is known as a 'Latin' guitar player, who had his breakthrough in the USA late 1940s as a member of Stan Kenton's big band, later in the 1950s he would be the first to inspire jazzmusicans to be interested in Brazilian music styles through a co-operation with Bud Shank, with whom Almeida made some now famous recordings in 1951,introducing 'jazz samba' to an American public. When Almeida moved permanently to the USA mid-1950s, his career spanned both jazz, classical and popular music - his work as a composer, arranger and guitarist during his American career is impressive, he made more than 800 compositions and participated in a great number of recordings - info about this chapter of his career is easily found in articles written in English. Anyway, here I like to put some focus on his early career in Brazil by pointing to his first recording under his own name, made 1938.

Laurindo Almeida (1917-1995)
Laurindo de Almeida was born 1917 in a small town in the state of São Paulo as a member of a large musical family. His father held an occupation as a railroad worker, but spent his leisure time as an amateur musician participating in serestas (- in English: serenade sessions). His mother was an amateur pianist, who taught Laurindo the basics of music, and a sister taught him to play the guitar in secret, an instrument he was attracted to already as a kid. At the age of 12 he would accompany his father and brothers in the serestas, by 15 he moved to São Paulo to seek his fortune as a musician and to take part in the political riots of the city. In 1932, he met and got aquainted with Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha) while staying at a hospital, and they would later become partners, when Laurindo moved to Rio de Jainero and in 1936 joined as a staff musician at Rádio Mayrink Veiga. Garoto and Laurindo worked together as studio musicians accompanying various popular artist of the time, i.e. Carmen Miranda, and they also recorded together as a duo accompanying other vocalists and instrumentalists.

Laurindo Almeida and Garoto in Rádio Mayrink Veiga studio, c.1936-37
(photo courtesy by Jorge Carvalho de Mello)
Together with guitarist Gastón Bueno Lobo and Garoto Laurindo had success with programs at Rádio Mayrink Veiga performing as Conjunto Hawaiano for some time, displaying a string ensemble influenced by the Hawaiian way of playing the (slide) guitar, probably inspired by the experience of Gastón Bueno Lobo, who had had success playing the Hawaiian slide guitar with Oscar Alemán in Argentina and Europe some years earlier in the Les Loups duo. In 1938, Laurindo and GB Lobo had a co-work as composers of the choro Inspiracão, which was recorded for Odeon on a 78 rpm with GB Lobo playing the lead on Hawaiian guitar accompanied by Laurindo on guitar and Tute, seven string guitar. 

The flip-side of this record (Odeon, 11649-A) contains the first recorded solo by Laurindo Almeida under his own name of his composition Saudade que passa, a waltz that reflects the tradition of choro as the background of Laurindo Almeida's musical language.

The inspiration from choro is also very significant in Almeida's later work, here's an example of a solo version of his composition Braziliance to end this intro to Almeida's mostly unknown record debut in Brazil - enjoy!


Laurindo Almeida is a well known Brazilian guitarist who had his main career in USA both as a composer, jazz guitarist and as a performer of classical guitar music. However, in general reference literature in English there is generally not much information about his early career in Brazil. This entry sets focus on his debut recording under his own name made 1938 in Brazil.

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