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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

The Potomac River Jazz Club 1983

BE[LECD]4007

 

 

1. Lead Me Savior

2. Blue Blood Blues

3. Froggie Moore

4. Tight Like This

5. Tears

6. Yearning (Just for You)

7. Baby o’ Mine

8. I Remember When

9. Sticky Wicket Stomp

10. Tree Top Tall Papa

11. Harlem Fuss

 

Recorded at the Ramada Inn, Alexandria, Virginia, on August 13, 1983.

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 seventh 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.

All of the selections on this CD were previously released on a cassette, but not on an LP. Unfortunately, the program on the CD could not be augmented since the band “no longer [has] access to other unreleased tracks,” the liner notes inform us.

The band was in top form that day as is clear on the opening selection, the spiritual Lead Me, Savior, which, as Pringle tells us, is one of the band’s favorites as it is of mine as well. Most of the tune is taken by the ensemble, as is so often the case with New Orleans style bands, and where there is a solo by a front line member, invariably after one chorus he will be joined by at least one other member playing counterpoint. Between such solo excursions ensemble passages will be interspersed, the lead often being traded. All through this (and every other tune on the disc, for that matter) one can hear the band members urging on their colleagues, giving encouragement and approbation to each other’s soloing. As they work toward the conclusion of the spiritual, tension builds as, chorus after chorus, Pringle leads them further and further into the piece, carefully orchestrating the dynamics so that there is a steady building up. Towards the end of the fourth out-chorus, one expects that to be it, but the band keeps going into a fifth. This is the kind of treatment given to virtually every tune, resulting in unflagging interest being generated—boredom is not to be found on the bandstand or in the audience.

Changes of texture also add to the interest. In the seldom-heard Morton composition Blue Blood Blues, for instance, we hear the cornet backed only by the piano for a chorus, all others dropping out, followed by the piano and drums, then tuba and banjo, and so on. Or in Tight Like This (which is the Curl/Armstrong number, not that by Thomas A. Dorsey), the ensemble lays down a nice stop-time on the first two beats of each measure behind the tuba solo, rather than the more usual first and third.

Even the choice of tunes plays a part. There are the infrequently heard ones, such as Blue Blood Blues, Baby o’ Mine, or Tree Top Tall Papa, or the original like Pilsbury’s Sticky Wicket Stomp. Rounding it all off is the closer, Waller’s Harlem Fuss—often miscalled Minor Drag and not often played by bands (or solo pianists, for that matter). It is taken at a fast clip and, despite that, Newberger again does the impossible of playing four to the bar without interruption!

Like the other albums in the series, this one will be a welcome addition for New Black Eagle fans or a useful introduction to the band for anyone who is not familiar with it. At the band’s web site <www.blackeagles.com> one can obtain more information.

Bert Thompson



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