CD Reviews

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

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Note: The band has announced an ordering method as follows:

Instead of $15.00 plus handling and packaging of $2.00, postage of $2.74 ($13.74 to Europe) you pay $12 and receive via Dropbox a ZIP file which contains all the tracks as mp3s, a Read Me.doc and JPEG files for the booklet cover, back page and the tray card.

More information is available at, the band’s website.


25th Anniversary vols. 1 & 2

Own Label BE[LECD]4021-1/2




Volume 1

1. Once in a While

2. The Martinique

3. Snag It

4. Tia Juana

5. Cannonball Blues

6. On Treasure Island

7. Shake It & Break It

8. Just a Closer Walk with Thee

9. Arkansas Blues

10. Grandpa’s Spells

11. Tia Juana Man

12. Red Man Blues

Playing time: 73m. 18s.

Recording locations and dates vary from Sept. 23, 1972 through Sept. 22, 1984. All details given in the CD booklet.

Tony Pringle – Cornet & leader (all tracks)

Stan Vincent – Trombone (tracks 1-7)

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

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

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

Peter Bullis – Banjo & manager (all tracks)

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

Hugh Blackwell – Clarinet & soprano & alto saxes (tracks 8-12)

Don Kenney – String bass (tracks 4-7)

Volume 2

1. Shimme-Sha-Wabble

2. Amazing Grace

3. Memories

4. In the Sweet Bye & Bye

5. I’m through with Love

6. Over in the Gloryland

7. My Memphis Baby

8. 1943

9. Home

10. Oriental Strut

11. The Christmas Song

12. Climax Rag

Playing time: 73m. 41s.

Recording locations and dates vary from Sept. 22, 1984 through Aug, 9, 1996. All details given in the CD booklet.

Tony Pringle – Cornet, leader (all tracks)

Stan Vincent – Trombone (all tracks)

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

Eli Newberger – Tuba (all tracks)

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

Peter Bullis – Banjo & manager (all tracks)

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

Hugh Blackwell – Clarinet, & alto saxes (tracks 1-2)

Don Kenney – String bass (track 4)

Tommy Sancton – added Clarinet (track 6)

Some twenty years ago the New Black Eagle Jazz Band celebrated their 25th anniversary and to mark the occasion issued tapes of recordings culled from the previous years. These recordings are now made available again in this two-disc CD set. Whether one is acquainted with the band or is coming to them for the first time, a feast of traditional jazz is on tap. Being familiar with just about all of the band’s recordings, I am never disappointed with what they produce, this set being no exception.

The members are all fine musicians who had, until fairly recently, stayed together for several decades, the result being they are really tuned in to each other. It would not be an exaggeration to say that one musician could start a musical phrase and another finish it. This is illustrated in Arkansas Blues (v. 1) and Home (v. 2), where there is some beautiful interplay between cornet and tuba as they trade phrases, each finishing off what the other started in these call-and-response sections.

But the heart of New Orleans jazz—and of this band—is the ensemble work. They certainly subscribe to the idea of collective improvisation that is so central to the New Orleans style. Just about any track on these two CDs gives evidence of such a focus, and coupled with judicious application of dynamics, results in a building interest and excitement, particularly on the out-choruses when the band can take several, the volume rising slightly with each successive one, before reaching the coda.

Room is also made, of course, for individuals to be front and centre. So we find Hugh Blackwell’s clarinet featured on Amazing Grace (v. 2), Stan Vincent’s trombone on The Christmas Song (v. 2), and Bob Pilsbury’s piano on the little known tune 1943 (v. 2).

Structural devices are also given careful consideration. These include the various textures that are displayed, one or two musicians engaging in a duet or call and response, with soft or no backing from the rest (Arkansas Blues, v.1); another is differing timing: an unusual stop time can be heard behind the tuba, followed by the “broken time” in the piano solo, in Tia Juana Man, v. 1).

Finally, there is such a great selection of tunes, some that one seldom if ever sees on other bands’ tune lists on their recordings: The Martinique, Tia Juana Man, and Red Man Blues (v. 1) and I’m through with Love and My Memphis Baby (v. 2), to mention just a few. So all of this bounty awaits and is delivered once each CD is inserted in the player.

The only shortcoming—and it is a small one—is some inconsistency in volume level, especially in the second disc, starting with Over in the Gloryland and continuing in the tracks that follow. One has to be prepared to adjust the volume from there on, but it does not seriously impair the listening experience.

As might be surmised from this review, this CD set is highly recommended.


Bert Thompson

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