Bert Thompson
New Black Eagles Jazz Band
1982 Mount Gretna
CD Review by Bert Thompson
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
Editor, Webmaster:  Phil Cartwright       Editor@earlyjas.org
EARLYJAS
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Bert's Bits
CD REVIEW
by Bert Thompson

NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND—MOUNT GRETNA 1982 (OWN LABEL: BE
[LECD]4008).  Playing time: 77m. 09s.  

Breeze; All the Whores†; Blue Blood Blues; Lily of the Valley; Amazing Grace;
Ragtime Nightingale; Pontchartrain*; Grandpa’s Spells; Arkansas Blues; Shimme-Sha-
Wabble*; Tight Like This; Funny Fumble; Purple Rose of Cairo.
Recorded at The Playhouse, Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania, on June 25 and 26, 1982.

Personnel: Tony Pringle, cornet, leader, vocal†; 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 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 has 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 and Shimme-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.  
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.
 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.
*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.

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 -
http://www.blackeagles.com/x.fullsite/cgi-bin/online-orderform.asp

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.