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



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NEW BLACK EAGLE
JAZZ BAND

Classic Jazz

BE[LECD]4012

 

 

1. Spreading Joy

2. Chicago Breakdown

3. Bombay

4. She’s Crying for Me

5. Short Dress Gal

6. Old Stack o’ Lee Blues

7. Funny Fumble

8. Roamin’

9. Grandpa’s Spells

10. Working Man Blues

11. Skeleton in the Closet

12. Rent Party Blues

13. Love Songs of the Nile

14. Shake It and Break It

Recorded at WGBH, Boston, MA, on Dec. 28, 1976 and Jan. 3, 1978

Tony Pringle – Cornet, leader and vocal (track 5)

Stan Vincent – Trombone

Stan McDonald – Clarinet and soprano sax

Bob Pilsbury – Piano

Peter Bullis – Banjo and manager

“Pam” Pameijer – Drums

Eli Newberger – Tuba


This is the twelfth 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.

The composers of the tunes on this CD comprise a veritable jazz composers’ “Hall of Fame,” with names such as Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Tiny Parham, Santo Pecora, Sam Morgan, King Oliver, Duke Ellington. And their compositions have become, indeed, “classics”: Bechet’s Spreading Joy, Morton’s Grandpa’s Spells, Morgan’s Short Dress Gal, Oliver’s Working Man’s Blues, Ellington’s Rent Party Blues, with nary a warhorse among them. Their rendition by the New Black Eagles might also be dubbed “classic.”

The program begins with a romping, stomping Spreading Joy, taken at a very brisk tempo in an undeviating four-four, here as elsewhere Newberger confounding the listener with his magical circular breathing. Although he may not be breathless at the end, the listener almost is. And so it continues straight through to the closing number, Shake It and Break It, a cooker which seems to accelerate a little as it proceeds but is certainly a rousing note on which to end.

In between, the band displays some of the signature devices for which it became known. In several of the tunes there are subtle changes in texture, particularly where everyone drops out except for the tuba and banjo, the tuba playing lead. In other places different instrumental groupings occur for some choruses, such as piano with drums and banjo accompaniment (no tuba), or cornet with the same accompaniment. Ensembles are given preference, especially on the out-choruses, and there is the gradual build-up of tension and excitement via the carefully employed dynamics.

By the time of these recording sessions these men have developed a fine rapport and can well anticipate what each other will do. That, coupled with the band’s telling discipline, results in superb renditions. There are quite a few memorable moments, such as the crisp opening ascending run taken by Pringle on Grandpa’s Spells and Pameijer’s nice accents on the same tune. His woodblocks on She’s Crying for Me also provide a most effective opening, and in that same tune the shifting between keys is effortless. It always surprises me that so few bands have this number in their repertoire. Another tune, a good one, that is not in many bands’ “books” is Love Songs of the Nile, a song from the movie The Barbarian (1933) and which Billie Pierce, pianist and vocalist who played in New Orleans from some twenty years, made her own as she along with her husband De De led bands at Preservation Hall. The movie may have sunk into oblivion, but the song survives.

The first nine tunes were recorded in one session and issued on a Philips LP, and the last five in one a year or so later. The personnel in both sessions was the same, as was the engineer, but the sound is a little different between the two. That of the first is warmer, but that of the second provides clearer definition of the instruments. No other tracks were extant from the first session, but fortunately those from the second survived and after the tapes were “baked” allowed for a full-length CD, one which all fans of the band will want to have, as should anyone who fancies him- or herself a traditional jazz connoisseur.

At the band’s web site <www.blackeagles.com> one can obtain more information.

Bert Thompson



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