|by Bert Thompson
NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND—Potomac River Jazz Club 1983 Concert (OWN
LABEL: BE[LECD]4007). Playing time: 70m. 17s.
Lead Me Savior; Blue Blood Blues; Froggie Moore; Tight Like This; Tears; Yearning
(Just for You); Baby o’ Mine; I Remember When; Sticky Wicket Stomp; Tree Top Tall
Papa; Harlem Fuss.
Recorded at the Ramada Inn, Alexandria, Virginia, on August 13, 1983.
Personnel: Tony Pringle, cornet, leader; Hugh Blackwell, clarinet, soprano, alto sax;
Stan Vincent, trombone; Peter Bullis, banjo, 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 by only 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.
According to the band, ordering information is as follows:
The 14 CD’s are a set only in that they represent 14 reissues of LPs and Cassettes from
the earlier days of the Black Eagles. We have not priced them as a set and have
typically sold them as individual items. You can find
them by going to -
To the right of the window you will see four lists - aisle 1, 2, 3 and 4. Click on aisle 2
and you will have an order form listing all 14 of the CDs.