1. When I Grow Too Old to Dream
2. Sensation Rag
3. Trog’s Blues
4. One in a While
5. Oriental Man
8. Dans les Rues d’Antibes
9. Black Cat on the Fence
10. My Journey to the Sky
12. I’m Travellin’
13. Joe Avery’s Piece
Recorded on the Golden Rod Showboat on the River, St. Louis, MO, on June 17, 1973.
Tony Pringle – Cornet and leader
Stan Vincent – Trombone
Stan McDonald – Clarinet and soprano sax
Terry Waldo – Piano
Peter Bullis – Banjo and manager
“Pam” Pameijer – Drums
Eli Newberger – Tuba
This is the eleventh 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.
By all rights the recording session from which these tracks derive should have been a disaster. The band was appearing at the St. Louis Ragtime Festival of
1973 and assembled in the theatre of the Goldenrod Showboat at the ungodly hour (for a musician) of 9 a.m. after only about three hours’ sleep. As if that
were not enough, the temperature was over 95° and the air conditioning could not be turned on as the noise would have been picked up by the mikes. The only
succor came from the table cloths, which became “sweat rags,” and a case of cold beer from the producer. Despite all of that, the band rose to the occasion
and what resulted was no debacle.
The first eight tunes comprised the original LP, and the last five came from the same session and were added to fill out the CD. This early version of the
band provides all of the features for which the band later became known. The selections exemplify the breadth of the book, containing as it does such
variety. Probably about half of the tunes will be familiar, the rest introducing the listener to “new” numbers or renewing his or her acquaintance with
some not heard in some time, such as Sensation Rag, Kinklets, Black Cat on the Fence, or My Journey to the Sky. Few bands have these in their repertoires.
The band’s penchant for ensemble playing is evident throughout, the first track, When I Grow Too Old to Dream, making this clear. Solos are
judiciously inserted between ensembles in many of the numbers, but it is the ensemble that is given emphasis. The first cut also exhibits the exuberance
the members evoke while getting their teeth into a tune. It opens at a brisk tempo and never flags, the musicians remaining energized, in spite of the
weariness they might have been experiencing before the downbeat. In fact, several of the tempos were a bit of a surprise to me and I’m not sure if the
conditions referred to above played any part in their choice. Once in a While comes roaring out of the gate and must have been a severe test (or
trial) for Bullis as he maintains the four/four on his banjo without wavering; his right hand must have been something of a blur, I would imagine. Other
tunes that fall into this “unusually up-tempo” category are Oriental Man and Joe Avery’s Piece.
Bechet’s composition Dans les Rues d’Antibes is brisk—perhaps a bit more than usual—but provides a fine vehicle for Stan McDonald on soprano sax.
Notable is the exultant “whoop” on tuba with which Newberger ends the piece. Newberger also is amazing as always, playing the uninterrupted four/four on
tuba that he manages through circular breathing, no matter how fast the tempo, also keeping things moving and not bogging them down as so many lesser tuba
Among the lesser-known pieces, My Journey to the Sky is, as Pringle says, “a lovely gospel piece.” The same can be said ofI’m Travellin’ which, like Pringle, I first heard played by the Crane River Jazz Band on an English Parlophone 78 record. (The other side was I Want a Girl Just like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad, played by the Saints jazz band, both performances being recorded at a concert at the
Royal Festival Hall in London in the early 1950’s.) I’m sure that Pringle would agree that it would be instructive for the listener to also seek out the
Crane River performance alluded to above, and doing so takes nothing away from the superb New Black Eagles’ rendition on this CD, one which provides a very
entertaining hour and a quarter or so of exhilarating jazz. Thoroughly recommended.
At the band’s web site <www.blackeagles.com> one can obtain more information.