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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


Brians' Songs




  1. Climax Rag; Delia’s Gone
  2. Viper’s Drag
  3. Arkansas Blues
  4. Home
  5. In the Sweet Bye and Bye
  6. Makin’ Whoopee
  7. Aunt Hagar’s Children’s Blues
  8. Blue Belles Goodbye
  9. Climax Rag
  10. When I Grow Too Old to Dream
  11. Special Delivery
  12. Lily of the Valley
  13. Burgundy Street Blues
  14. Shake It and Break It

Recorded at Water Street Sound Works, Vancouver, Canada, on May 29, 1981; Holiday Inn, Toronto, Canada, on July 1, 1984; deMaaspoort, Venio, Holland on September 2, 1984; Meadowbank Arena, Edinburgh, Scotland on August 23, 1984; and Philips Centrum, Eindhoven, Holland on September 1, 1984.

Personnel: Tony Pringle, cornet and leader; Stan Vincent, trombone; Brian Ogilvie, clarinet and soprano sax; Brian Williams, clarinet; Bob Pilsbury, piano; Peter Bullis, banjo; Eli Newberger, tuba; C. H. “Pam” Pameijer, drums.

When the Black Eagles completed the last of the fourteen limited edition CD’s reissuing material by the band that previously appeared on LP’s and on cassette tapes, they thought that that was it! However, since then more such material was discovered, resulting in an additional two CD’s in that limited edition series, this being the first of those.

The title, Brians’ Songs, does not contain a misplaced apostrophe as two guest reed players, both with the first name Brian, are featured. The first, Brian Ogilvie, recorded with the band in Vancouver, B.C., in 1981 and is heard on the first nine tracks; the second, Brian Williams, substituted with the band for a date in Toronto and a subsequent tour of Europe in 1984 and is heard on the last six tracks. As Tony Pringle points out in the album notes, their clarinet styles were quite contrastive, Ogilvie leaning more toward contemporary traditional jazz but Williams to that of New Orleans. “To hear this difference,” Pringle says, “one only has to compare the two versions of Climax Rag!” Also, Williams’ rendition of Burgundy Street Blues is drenched in composer George Lewis’ trademark techniques, such as the swooping runs from the high to the low registers and the reverse—one might be forgiven for thinking it was Lewis playing. And yet it is not a strict copy of any of the several recordings of Lewis playing this signature number. A sad footnote is that both of these players, Ogilvie and Williams, are now deceased.

The repertoire is typical Black Eagles fare—a mixture of the familiar and the less common and the inclusion of tunes not played by too many other bands since they are not in the “book of jazz standards.” Among those not often heard are Anton Lada and Spencer Williams’ composition Arkansas Blues, and another Special Delivery, a tune associated perhaps with Sippie Wallace, who was also the composer, although there is no vocal here.

Well-known but not on many bands’ tune lists is Makin’ Whoopee, here made into a nice jazz vehicle, along with When I Grow Too Old to Dream, the longest tune in the set, dusted off and taken at a medium tempo, allowing everyone who takes a solo ample opportunity to explore the melody. On this track, as on most, all of the Black Eagles hallmarks pervade—the careful attention to dynamics; Pringle’s punching and squeezing out notes on his cornet; the solid four of the rhythm section with occasional tom tom and cymbal accents; the emphasis on ensemble work with just the occasional solo in between these ensemble passages—one being Pilsbury’s percussive piano where he is not averse to crashing down on a chord or a single note for that matter; and the several out choruses where there is no increase in volume but a steadily mounting drive in intensity.

Like all of the Black Eagles CDs, this one will provide a perfect gateway to anyone unfamiliar with this band, and for those already cognizant of the group, it is another fine recording to add to their collection.

This disc is (at least for the moment!) the penultimate CD of the limited edition reissue series of previous LP’s and tapes. The whole series is an amazing testament to the band’s durability and the excellence of its musical output.

At the band’s web site <> one can obtain ordering information.

Bert Thompson

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