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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


NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND

Mount Gretna 1982

Own Label BE[LECD]4008

 

 

1. Breeze

2. All the Whores

3. Blue Blood Blues

4. Lily of the Valley

5. Amazing Grace

6. Ragtime Nightingale

7. Pontchartrain

8. Grandpa’s Spells

9. Arkansas Blues

10. Shimme-Sha-Wabble

11. Tight Like This

12. Funny Fumble

13. Purple Rose of Cairo

 

Recorded at The Playhouse, Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania, on June 25 and 26, 1982.

Tony Pringle – Cornet and leader

Hugh Blackwell – Clarinet, soprano sax, and alto sax

Stan Vincent – Trombone

Peter Bullis – Banjo and manager

Bob Pilsbury – Piano

C. H. “Pam” Pameijer – Drums

Eli Newberger – Tuba

 

This is the eighth in a series of fourteen limited edition CD’s, reissuing material by the band that previously appeared on LP’s—mainly on their own label but also on a few other small labels, such as Philo, Philips, and Dirty Shame—and on cassette tapes. Some of these cassettes were issued simultaneously with the LP’s but also contained additional tracks. Other cassettes with different material were issued in that format only. When the company that produced the cassettes went out of business, the digital masters were returned to the band. These form the basis of most of the material on this CD set.

The New Black Eagles played many concerts over the years at Mount Gretna, many issued on the Stomp Off label; this was one which initially was issued only on cassette but deemed worthy of being included in this CD reissue series. Between the opening tune, Breeze, where Pringle introduces all the band members to the audience, to the closing one, Purple Rose of Cairo, where he again runs through the roster, are some memorable renditions of a variety of tunes, including no fewer than three by Jelly Roll Morton. As any aficionado knows, Morton wrote some beautiful, but demanding, pieces, as Grandpa’s Spells illustrates. Blue Blood Blues is another Morton composition that one seldom hears these days, more’s the pity.

As I have often been said before, this band excels in ensemble playing, this recording providing ample evidence of that. In between such passages often comes a solo, but even there the soloist is frequently backed by another member of the front line. Along with Pameijer, Bullis seldom takes a solo, being content to provide a steady four to the bar, but on this night he took at least a couple which are preserved here—on All the Whores and Blue Blood Blues. (The euphemism, “Girls,” on the former is dispensed with and the original, “Whores,” reinstated.) One tune is given over entirely to solo, namely Joseph Lamb’s Ragtime Nightingale, and on it Pilsbury demonstrates his mastery of the idiom.

For me there were many the high points in this concert. In addition to the ragtime number just alluded to, these would include the precise punctuation that Pameijer provides with the tom-tom accents that he so judiciously inserts in several of the pieces, such as Lily of the Valley andShimme-Sha-Wabble; the lovely clarinet-piano-drums opening statement and reiteration of the theme for several choruses at the start of Amazing Grace, and then the diminuendo at the end where a cough by a member of the audience is louder than the sound of the clarinet; the trading of two bar sequences by cornet and tuba for a couple of choruses in Arkansas Blues; the dramatic opening by solo cornet of Tight Like This; the descending run taken by cornet and clarinet in Funny Fumble; and so many more.

Topping it all off is the excitement the band creates with the mounting intensity of several closing choruses given so many of the tunes—not an increase in volume (although the band can achieve that quite well, too, on occasion) but an increase in sheer fervor as the group works through the closing ensembles on many of the tracks.

The band that evening was in full cry, resulting in another of their superior performances. If there was any proof needed that the New Black Eagles was then—and is still—one of the premier bands playing traditional jazz, this provides it. One should feel no hesitation in acquiring this album. At the band’s web site <www.blackeagles.com> one can obtain more information.

*Just for the record, on the back page of the liner notes and the back tray insert, Pontchartrain is incorrectly spelled “Ponchartrain” and Shimme-Sha-Wabble is incorrectly spelled “Shimme-She-Wabble.” However, the correct spellings are given in the liner notes themselves.

Bert Thompson



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