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



NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND
1971-2011

Celebrating the Big 40

Own Label BE 4000-1, 4000-2,
4000-3

 

 


CD1
1. Folsom Prison Blues
2. Memories
3. Special Delivery Blues
4. Bogalusa Strut
5. Long, Deep and Wide
6. White Ghost Shivers
7. Misty Morning
8. Diga Diga Doo
9. Tree Top Tall Papa
10. Dreaming the Hours Away
11. One for the Guv'nor

CD2
12. Tipi Tin
13. Chimes Blues
14. Rosetta
15. Jelly Bean Blues
16. Shake It and Break It
17. Red Man Blues
18. Dusty Rag
19. All Night Shags
20. Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland
21. Copenhagen

CD3
22. Louisian-I-A
23. Working Man Blues
24. Please Don't Talk about Me When I'm Gone
25. In the Sweet Bye and Bye
26. Climax Rag
27. Home
28. Delia's Gone
29. When I Leave the World Behind
30. Out of the Galleon
31. Papa Dip
32. Joe Avery's Piece

Collective personnel
Tony Pringle - Cornet, vocals
Doc Cheatham - Trumpet
Hugh Blackwell - Clarinet, alto sax, soprano sax
Billy Novick - Clarinet, alto sax
Stan McDonald - Clarinet, soprano sax
Tommy Sancton, Brian Williams, Brian Ogilvie - Clarinet
Stan Vincent, Jerry Zigmont - Trombone
Bob Pilsbury - Piano
Peter Bullis - Banjo
Jesse Williams, Barry Bockus, Don Kenney - Bass
Eli Newberger - Tuba
C. H. "Pam" Pameijer, David Hurst, Bill Reynolds - Drums

 

The term "world class" has become something of a clich‚, applied as it is so widely and, it seems, often quite indiscriminately. However, applied to the New Black Eagle Jazz Band it again becomes meaningful, because this band, with which most traditional jazz aficionados are familiar, definitely is in that category. In part this is dictated by the mere fact of their longevity-40 years-and also by the world renown they have achieved from touring "many times in Europe [including the U.K.], Canada, all over USA, and in Singapore," as we learn from their web site; but it is most evident in the quality of the music they create-music which brims with passion and creativity, and which displays excellence of technique by the individual musicians.

To mark the occasion of their 40th anniversary, the New Black Eagle Jazz Band held a very successful concert and party on September 18, 2011, at the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts, and released this triple-decker set of tunes recorded throughout that span of forty years from their beginnings in November of 1971 through January of this year, 2011. Although

some of the tunes in this set appear on other of their recordings, none of the renditions here has been previously issued.

What this set provides is a kind of retrospective of the band's career, and one will notice that from the earliest time until today the driving ensemble has dominated the band's sound, four-beat being the rhythm, even when Newberger played tuba. He clearly had mastered circular breathing as he never stops playing four-beat, even on the fastest tempos. Such rhythm is the

basis of the excitement the band produces, and the level never wanes, even when the band takes half-a-dozen or more out-choruses, each building on the previous one and making full use of dynamics.

The first disc starts with the most recent recording in the set, Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, recorded in January of this year, and the rest of the tracks on the three discs work back to the earliest one of the set, the last one of CD3, Joe Avery's Piece, recorded in 1971. The rendition of Folsom Prison Blues would, I'm sure, garner Cash's approval; it is a "cooker", taken at a fast four-beat. The very last track, Joe Avery's Piece, is also taken at a faster tempo than is usual with most other bands who play it, but nothing is lost, especially the interest in the piece that is heightened by the several instruments-tuba and especially drums-following the banjo's lead of playing the stop-time rhythm behind the rest of the ensemble or the soloist.

The selections are all of a length that allows for total exploration of melody and chord sequences, one, Jelly Bean Blues, being as long as a little over ten minutes. Yet the listener is hardly aware of the duration, such is the building of interest that occurs during the piano solo, one that is so typical of Pilsbury. Everyone lays out but him, and while he plays a "broken" rhythm, he never loses his place but has the listener hanging on his every note, totally captivated. Another tune, White Ghost Shivers (probably as new to most readers as it was to me), has no fewer than six choruses in the coda, but the alternation in the dynamics between them makes for a rising tension and excitement. Every track has its delights.

For anyone unfamiliar with this band's oeuvre, this set will provide an excellent introduction. For those who already have several CDs by the band, it will be a welcome addition. It is, finally, a superb three-CD set to commemorate the four-decade anniversary of a superb band. While I don't know how many copies were made, I should think they will go fast. On the band's website www.blackeagles.com one can find ordering information.

Bert Thompson



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