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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



NEW BLACK EAGLE
JAZZ BAND

In Concert

Own Label
BE[LECD]4002

 

 

1. Wild Man Blues
2. I Found a New Baby
3. I'm Travellin'
4. Skit-Dat-De-Dat
5. You Made Me Love You
6. Wild Cat Blues
7. Snag It
8. Wrought Iron Rag
9. Introduction of Gil Roberts by Rev. A. L. Kershaw
10. Someday Sweet Heart
11. Girl of My Dreams
12. After You've Gone
13. Down in Honky Tonky Town
14. Till We Meet Again

Tony Pringle - Cornet, leader
Stan McDonald - Clarinet, soprano sax
Stan Vincent - Trombone
Peter Bullis - Banjo, manager
Bob Pilsbury - Piano
C. H. "Pam" Pameijer - Drums
Eli Newberger - Tuba
Gil Roberts - Banjo, vocal (added on tracks 9-14)

Recorded live at WGBH, Boston, Oct. 29, 1973, and New England Life Hall, Boston, Sept. 28, 1974.

 

This is the second in a series of fourteen limited edition CD's, reissuing material by the band that previously appeared on LP's-mainly on their own label but also on a few other small labels, such as Philo, Philips, and Dirty Shame-and on cassette tapes. Some of these cassettes were issued simultaneously with the LP's but also contained additional tracks. Other cassettes with different material were issued in that format only. When the company that produced the cassettes went out of business, the digital masters were returned to the band. These form the basis of most of the material on this CD set.

This particular CD is a reprise of the LP by the same title, with one track from the LP (Black Eagle Skuffle) omitted and the last six tracks on the CD added from another concert performance to augment the playing time. The following are some comments on some of the tracks on this recording.

The disc opens with Wild Man Blues, replete with its many breaks-one of Morton's "signatures"-which are taken by several different instruments. MacDonald takes those on the opening and closing ensembles as well as those where he plays lead, and he demonstrates his range as he covers all of the registers. Pilsbury takes the second run through and provides a great variety in the breaks from single-finger-note runs to block chords, the latter with increasing crescendo, which adds to the excitement. Finally, Pringle's cornet in the next ride gently massages the breaks with a breathy piano to pianissimo range.

The next tune, I Found a New Baby, is taken at a fast tempo, led by soprano sax. This is aided and enhanced by the straight four of the tuba, which Newberger manages thanks to his mastery of circular breathing. The track cooks all the way. It is followed by the lovely I'm Travellin', a slow gospel tune that is not in the repertoire of most jazz bands these days. Pilsbury's piano solo is a thing of beauty, and Pameijer's muffled tom tom accents laid down behind Pringle's cornet solo are just right. Another slow tune follows, Lil Hardin's Skit-Dat-De-Dat. The opening statement is made by cornet and then, in turn, by clarinet, piano, and trombone, with a tom tom roll being featured on the crescendo of the ride out, making for a very satisfying rendition of this emotionally charged tune.

You Made Me Love You is not the You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It), the 1913 pop song by James V. Monaco and Joseph McCarthy, but rather the one by Percy Venable and Louis Armstrong. Somewhat in the same vein, Wild Cat Blues is often wrongly attributed to Sidney Bechet since his recording of it is seen by many as definitive. Actually it was written by Clarence Williams and Fats Waller. Here Stan MacDonald is featured on soprano sax à la Bechet, up-tempo.

Next, Snag It brings the tempo back to a sedate level. A King Oliver composition, it features cornet, as might be expected, but there is also thoughtful tuba soloing in its midst. Pringle takes the breaks leading up to the coda with aplomb. It is followed by the finale of this 1973 recording session, a rousing rendition off Wilbur de Paris' Wrought Iron Rag. It is taken at a breathtaking tempo, with Newberger again doing the impossible by playing a straight four/four without stopping to take a breath. The extremely fast tempo is maintained without flagging or any band member's getting lost-truly a tour de force, as the audience's rousing applause attests.

The last six tracks feature a banjo player, Gil Roberts (1896-2002), who goes "'way back," according to the Rev. A. L. Kershaw's introduction. It seems at one time or another he played with Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Tommy Ladnier-impressive credentials, one might say. At the time of this recording he was in his late seventies, and I have no idea how he sounded in his prime as he made no recordings with the afore-mentioned jazz pioneers. Apparently he was inactive musically for many years until discovered by Stan MacDonald and encouraged to resume playing banjo. He was then "adopted" by the New Black Eagles and appeared with them on numerous occasions, including this one.

Having said all of that, I must confess that I was not particularly struck by his playing. It had a little too much of the "vaudevillian" about it for my taste-one might think a little of Ikey Robinson. He is much given to single string runs, both ascending and descending, and interjected "yesses" and other expressions of encouragement. On some tracks, he sings or partly sings/partly speaks the words. Without wishing to sound harsh, I don't think he adds a great deal, but it was a kind gesture by the band to give this veteran player some recognition. I was a little surprised, too, that Someday Sweet Heart on track #10 is simply a repetition of that which follows Kershaw's introduction on track #9.

This CD provides over an hour of enjoyable New Orleans-style jazz in typical New Black Eagles fashion. At the band's web site <www.blackeagles.com> one can obtain more information.

Bert Thompson



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