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New Black eagle jazz band

The Last of the First! • A Memorial Concert for Chester Zardis, New Orleans Bassist 1900-1990

• BEDVD102. Running time: 100 mins. approx.





1. Opening Credits

2. In the Sweet Bye and Bye

3. Careless Love

4. Alan Lomax speaking

5. Danny Barker talking & singing

Gallows Blues

Right Key but Wrong Keyhole

6. Girl of My Dreams

7. Shake It & Break It

8. Presentation to Mrs. Zardis

9. Yearning

10. Out in the Cold Again

11. Nevertheless I’m in Love with You

12. C. C. Rider

13. Danny Barker telling a story

14. Tommy Sancton’s spoken tribute to Chester Zardis

15. The Old Rugged Cross

16. Panama

17. Till We Meet Again

18. Closing Credits

Tony Pringle – Cornet & leader

Peter Bullis – Banjo

Stan Vincent – Trombone

Brian Ogilvie – Clarinet

Bob Pilsbury – Piano

Eli Newberger – Tuba

Pam Pameijer – Drums

Tommy Sancton – Clarinet

Danny Barker – Banjo & guitar

Alan Lomax – Speaker

Recorded at Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI on Nov. 3, 1990.

Not long after the New Black Eagle band formed, they went down to New Orleans to play at the 1971 Jazz & Heritage Festival, and needing a bass player, approached New Orleanian Chester Zardis to join them on string bass, which he did. Later in May that year, still having no regular bassist, the band had Zardis come up to Boston to join them for some dates and a recording (issued on BE[LECD]4010). They planned to bring Zardis up again for a tribute concert in 1991, but before the concert could take place, Zardis died in 1990, so instead of a tribute the concert became a memorial. The video department of Rhode Island School of Design was on hand to record the proceedings, and what we have here is a distillation by Tony Pringle of the three DVDs-worth of recording of the concert that he was given.

At the time the band lacked a clarinettist, so they decided to invite Tommy Sancton to join them since he was from New Orleans and had been instrumental in forming the band in the first place. In addition, he was an acquaintance of Zardis. Initially, however, he had a conflict with dates, so Brian Ogilvie was invited to replace him. When it turned out later that Sancton’s conflict was resolved, the band invited both men to appear, Ogilvie playing tenor saxophone and Sancton clarinet on the majority of the tracks.

Sancton also speaks at one point of his acquaintance with Zardis. Other speakers include Alan Lomax, the collector of folk music and a folklorist and ethnologist esteemed for his work in the South, discussing Zardis’ place in the history and development of New Orleans jazz bass playing; and Danny Barker, who had often played with Zardis, participating both orally and musically.

As always the Black Eagles sound like the Black Eagles, even with two or three guests—clarinet and tenor sax and banjo/guitar—being part of the ensemble at times. The beauty of this recording is that here we can both see and hear the band play, a rare opportunity for those of us who do not live on the east coast of the U.S. The band drive on tunes like the opener In the Sweet Bye and Bye or Yearning; in tunes like Shake It and Break It and Panama they show how effective dynamics can be. Then there is the magnificent rendition of Out in the Cold Again which is a feature for two clarinets, the rest of the front line laying out, and at one point there is a fine sequence where Newberger and Ogilvie trade fours.

The camera also provides us with images that enhance the auditory experience. There are audience shots, for example, that indicate there were a good number of young people present who seemed to relate directly to the music, snapping their fingers—on the off-beat, no less—on Shake It and Break It. In Careless Love Newberger can be seen caressing the tuba as he caresses the notes, and elsewhere Bullis stamps in time as he strums, displaying his bright red socks. And Pilsbury, as he so often did, stands up while pounding the chords as the band reaches a climax in Panama, with a few young folks in the audience even getting up to dance on the apron in front of the stage. The performance is thus as visually exciting as the music.

More of this concert might become available in future, one would hope, since more is in Mr. Pringle’s hands, as mentioned above. This DVD is available in both the PAL and NTSC formats. Contact information can be had at, the band’s website.

Bert Thompson

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