Brian Carpenter

Brian Carpenter is a composer, arranger, producer, engineer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is the trumpeter, arranger, and founder of the Ghost Train Orchestra. In 2004, he founded the Boston-based band Beat Circus, for which he has composed a "Weird American Gothic" trilogy of original songs and compositions. In 2010, the Beat Circus album Boy From Black Mountain won the Independent Music Award for Best Alt/Country Album. He is the lead singer and songwriter of the Boston-based Brian Carpenter & The Confessions. He also produces a radio program called Free Association on WZBC-FM in Boston. He has collaborated with many artists across genres and mediums, including Michael Gira (Swans), filmmaker Michael Snow, comic book writer Harvey Pekar, guitarist Marc Ribot, and trombonist Roswell Rudd.

Photograph by Nina Galicheva

Mazz Swift

Mazz Swift is a native New Yorker who began playing the violin at age 6. She has recorded and per­formed with a wide vari­ety of artists includ­ing Whit­ney Hous­ton, Perry Far­rell, Dee Snider, James “Blood” Ulmer, Ver­non Reid and DJ Logic (The Yohimbe Broth­ers), William Parker, Butch Mor­ris, many artists from the Black Rock Coali­tion, Kanye West, Com­mon and Jay-Z. Her current projects include solo performances under the name MazzMuse, and performances  in Budapest with some of Hungary's finest musicians in Budapest Bar and Fire + Fire. She is also a member of Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber.

Photograph by Nina Galicheva.

Dennis Lichtman

Dennis Lichtman is a man of many musical minds, jumping genres and instruments incessantly, sometimes within one show, or even within one song. He is equally at home on mandolin, fiddle, and clarinet. He has toured the world as a traditional-jazz clarinetist, graced many a bluegrass festival stage as a fiddler, and devoted much time to the study of early 20th century Brazilian mandolin music. Along the way, he has performed and recorded with top masters in each of those genres. He is in constant demand as a session musician, arranger, and sideman in New York’s hopping music scene. In addition to his work in the Ghost Train Orchestra, Dennis performs in Brain Cloud, Astrograss, and King Wilkie.

Photograph by Nina Galicheva.

Andy Laster

Alto/baritone saxophonist and composer Andy Laster grew up on Long Island, and studied jazz at Seattle's Cornish Institute before moving to New York City in 1985. During the 1990s Laster emerged as a unique and significant voice on the so-called "New York downtown music scene" with his groups Hydra and Soft Shell. Laster also performs in Matt Darriau's Ballin' The Jack with Curtis Hasselbring. He has also performed with Bobby Previte, Julius Hemphill, Mark Helias, Hank Roberts, Lyle Lovett, and Elvis Costello. He has released a chamber-jazz suite inspired by Samuel Beckett's short prose and has been engaged in Egyptian music of the 1920s with his quartet Sounds of Cairo.

Photograph by Roberto Cifarelli.

Petr Cancura

Multi-instrumentalist Petr Cancura has recorded and performed with Danilo Perez, Julian Lage, Bob Moses, Joe Morris, Kathleen Edwards, Kenny Wollesen, Joe Maneri, Cecil McBee and the Juno award-winning Mighty Popo among others. Petr’s current project called Down Home is jazz inspired by original black & white photographs and the music of the deep south (Mississippi and Kentucky). Other current projects are The Richie Barshay Group, his own groups PeopleMusic, a quartet with Polish marvel Jacek Kochan, guitar legend Joe Morris, Brazilian Bluegrass band NationBeat and the Danilo Perez Big Band.

Photograph by John Fowler.

Curtis Hasselbring

Curtis Hasselbring is a trombonist, guitarist, and composer who resides in Brooklyn. He leads the groups The New Mellow Edwards, Decoupage and the Curha-chestra. Curha is Curtis's frequently invoked nickname as well as his sample-based electronic project. He has spent the last 20 years playing and recording with Medeski Martin and Wood, Slavic Soul Party, Golem, Beat Circus, The Either/Orchestra, Bobby Previte, Josh Roseman, Andrew D'Angelo, The Jazz Passengers, among others. Curtis appears on over 60 recordings including two releases as a leader with the New Mellow Edwards. In addition to his work in the Ghost Train Orchestra, he also performs in Golem and Matt Darriau's Ballin' The Jack.

Photograph by Roberto Cifarelli.

Ron Caswell

Ron Caswell holds down one of the most unique sounds on the tuba in modern music. Ron moved to New York City and started picking up gigs at an early age with ensembles ranging from the Flying Karamazov Brothers to the New York City Opera. He has recorded and performed with They Might Be Giants, Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Orchestra, the Royal Brass, the American Composers Orchestra, Roberto Rodriguez, and Max Roach. In addition to his work in the Ghost Train Orchestra, Ron currently performs regularly with Slavic Soul Party, Beat Circus, Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars, and his own band the Stumblebum Brass Band.

Photograph by Michael Blase.

Rob Garcia

Rob Garcia is a drummer, composer, and bandleader based in Brooklyn. He has performed and/or recordedd with Wynton Marsalis, Joseph Jarman, Woody Allen, Sam Newsome, Howard Alden, Brad Shepik, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, and many others. Rob has released three CDs under his own name. His latest CD "Perennial" with Noah Preminger, Dan Tepfer, and Chris Lightcap, was listed in the "10 Best Jazz Albums of 2009" by the New York Observer. Rob is the founder and executive director of Connection Works, an artist-run, non-profit organization which brings jazz to the Brooklyn community in new ways. He is also a member of the Douglass Street Music Collective, an artist-run rehearsal and performance space.

Photograph by Michael Blase.

Avi Bortnick

Guitarist Avi Bortnick is best known for his long musical association with influential jazz guitarist John Scofield, playing rhythm guitar and electronics composing and producing.  In addition to playing with Scofield, he has played as a solo artist and with a wide range of New York-based artists, including Jim Weider’s Project Percolator, Forro in the Dark, Shitty Shitty Jam Band, Rene Lopez, Ghost Train Orchestra, Betty Black, Bunga Bunga Party, and Jason Blum. When living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he played with Zigaboo Modeliste, Bobby McFerrin, What It Is, Jeff Narell, and Kotoja.  He is known in musician circles for his rhythm guitar playing and ability to blend in a variety of musical configurations. 

Photograph by Peter Gannushkin.

Michael Bates

Michael Bates is a virtuoso double bassist, visionary composer, active bandleader, curator and educator who thrives in many musical worlds. For over a decade he has been performing cutting edge music and “simply put, Bates has the ability to make a huge impact on the existing state of modern jazz”– (Glenn Astarita). He has been called “a charismatic player who manages to navigate that most difficult and rarely traveled road leading to accessible experimentation… “(Chris Watson, “The View”). His 2011 release on Sunnyside Records, “Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich” showcases a brand new quintet and is clearly Bates’ most important release to date.

Photograph by Bryan Murray.

Emily Bookwalter

Emily Bookwalter is a violist, improvisor, and singer in New York City. She is also the External Affairs Manager for the String Orchestra of Brooklyn and works full-time at New Music USA. She performs regularly with many small and large ensembles through New York City and has performed with Beat Circus, Beirut, Operamission, ShoutHouse, The Delegation, New York Repertory Orchestra, and Reona Ito Chamber Orchestra, and Scott Wollschleger.


Photograph by Glenn Cornett.