CD Reviews

MusicWeb International

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

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

Web site


15th Anniversary vol. 1 & 2

Own Label BE[LECD]4019-1/2




Volume 1

1. Joe Avery’s Piece

2. My Journey to the Sky

3. Gatemouth

4. Red Wing

5. Breeze

6. Coal Black Shine

7. Love Song[s] of the Nile

8. Original Jelly Roll Blues

9. Coal Cart Blues

10. Mabel’s Dream

11. Saturday Night Function

12. Haarlem Bound

13. Magnolia’s Wedding Day

14. Working Man Blues

Playing time: 75m. 48s.

Recording locations and dates vary from Nov. 14, 1971 through Nov. 1, 1978. All details given in the CD booklet.

Tony Pringle – Cornet & leader (all tracks)

Stan McDonald – Clarinet & soprano sax (tracks 1-12)

Stan Vincent – Trombone (all tracks)

Bob Pilsbury – Piano (tracks 1-3, 5-14)

Peter Bullis – Banjo & manager (all tracks)

Eli Newberger – Tuba (tracks 1-9, 13-14)

C. H. “Pam” Pameijer – Drums (all tracks)

Terry Waldo – Piano (track 4)

Butch Thompson – Clarinet (track 5)

Don Kenney – String bass (tracks 10-12)

Brian Ogilvie – Clarinet (tracks 13-14)

Volume 2

1. Kinklets

2. The Mooche

3. You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew

4. Lead Me Savior

5. Terrible Blues

6. Harlem Fuss

7. Chimes Blues

8. Dusty Rag

9. If You’re a Viper

10. Kansas City Stomps

11. Michigander Blues

12. Bogalusa Strut

Playing time: 69m. 15s.

Recording locations and dates vary from Sept. 7, 1982 through Jan. 24, 1987. All details given in the CD booklet.

Tony Pringle – Cornet, leader (all tracks) & vocal (track 9)

Hugh Blackwell – Clarinet, soprano, & alto saxes (tracks 1-9)

Stan Vincent – Trombone (all tracks)

Bob Pilsbury – Piano (all tracks) & vocal (track 3)

Peter Bullis – Banjo & manager (all tracks)

Eli Newberger – Tuba (all tracks)

C. H. “Pam” Pameijer – Drums (all tracks)

Billy Novick – Clarinet, soprano, & alto saxes (tracks 10-12)

This double-disc set was originally issued on two tape cassettes to mark the band’s 15th anniversary in 1987 and is now part of the CD reissue series currently under way. The performances were culled from a variety of gigs during these first fifteen years, with the result that on a few of the dates substitutes are to be found; but the band has had a remarkably stable personnel for most of the years of its existence, the only chair seeing a bit of turnover during the early years being the reeds, although Billy Novick has held that chair since 1986. Three of the tracks on disc 1 gave a foretaste of what was to come after Eli Newberger left the band in 2001 since his tuba was replaced by string bass.

Perhaps “variety” would be the byword for the contents of these two discs. There is great variety in the locations where the band performed, running from concert settings in academia (Fontbonne College, St. Louis, MO; York College, York, PA) to small, intimate venues (Goldenrod Showboat, St. Louis, MO; Sticky Wicket Pub, Hopkinson, MA) to television studios (WGBH, Boston, MA) to recording studios, to you-name-it. Approximately half of the tracks come from live performances, the rest from studio recordings.

Likewise there is much variety in the band’s repertoire: rags (Kinklets, Dusty Rag—each a whole band effort, not just a piano solo)); marches (Joe Avery’s Piece, Bogalusa Strut); hymns and spirituals (My Journey to the Sky, Lead Me Savior); novelty numbers (You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew); “reefer” songs (If You’re a Viper); and, of course, the blues, stomps, and pop songs that also comprise a jazz band’s book. All are to be found here, and all are given fine renditions.

The band’s mastery is also evidenced in their ability to take on challenging tempos and, almost invariably, do so without faltering. Perhaps there is a small glitch in a couple of the breaks on the brisk Harlem Fuss, but if so the recovery is so rapid that they are barely detectable. The “surprise” ending given to the piece is a delight. Elsewhere one encounters superb dynamics—this is not a band that plays loud and louder but can drop to a whisper where needed.

Every track has its moments. One that struck me particularly was the nice Latin tinge, so beloved of Jelly Roll Morton, in the backing given in his composition Original Jelly Roll Blues—even an “Olé” is thrown in behind clarinet solo for good measure. Piano and banjo play straight choruses, then the drums lay down a habanero rhythm behind the tuba solo.

Another was the drama of Working Man Blues. Pamiejer’s woodblocks on the opening ensemble choruses of the tune were very effective, followed by tom tom accents leading to the breaks, all immaculate—here and throughout the tune—and Pamjeijer continues to give tasteful backing to the others all the way. After the clarinet solo, Pringle’s fine, subdued muted cornet and Vincent’s brash, muted trombone solos heighten the tension, leading to Pilsbury’s single note piano phrasing at the beginning of his solo, which is striking, followed by some block chording. After this is an ensemble chorus leading up to a duet of an expressive solo by the tuba with sympathetic banjo backing, the others having dropped out. This duet is terminated by a guttural gliss from Vincent’s trombone which leads into the out choruses, ending with a ritard that concludes with a minor chord—all highly dramatic stuff.

To make a long story short, what these two discs add up to is a typical New Black Eagles outing, one that is sure to please the band’s myriad fans and, along the way, create new ones. That is what the band was doing thirty years ago when these tracks were recorded and what it is still doing today—over and over. The reissue series will continue, with two more double CD sets in the works, these being reissues of tape cassettes originally commemorating the 20 th and the 25th anniversaries.

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

Bert Thompson

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: