Bert Thompson
NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND—ON THE RIVER (OWN
LABEL: BE[LECD]4011).  Playing time: 72m. 52s.  
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
Editor, Webmaster:  Phil Cartwright       Editor@earlyjas.org
EARLYJAS
EARLYJAS
Bert's Bits
When I Grow Too Old to Dream; Sensation Rag; Trog’s Blues; One in a While; Oriental
Man; Breeze; Kinklets; Dans les Rues d’Antibes; Black Cat on the Fence; My Journey to
the Sky; Flatfoot; I’m Travellin’; Joe Avery’s Piece.

Personnel: Tony Pringle, cornet and leader; Stan Vincent, trombone; Stan McDonald,
clarinet, soprano sax; Terry Waldo, piano; Peter Bullis, banjo and manager; “Pam”
Pameijer, drums; Eli Newberger, tuba.

     This is the eleventh 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.

     By all rights the recording session from which these tracks derive should have been a
disaster.  The band was appearing at the St. Louis Ragtime Festival of 1973 and
assembled in the theatre of the Goldenrod Showboat at the ungodly hour (for a
musician) of 9 a.m. after only about three hours’ sleep.  As if that were not enough, the
temperature was over 95° and the air conditioning could not be turned on as the noise
would have been picked up by the mikes.  The only succor came from the table cloths,
which became “sweat rags,” and a case of cold beer from the producer.  Despite all of
that, the band rose to the occasion and what resulted was no debacle.

     The first eight tunes comprised the original LP, and the last five came from the same
session and were added to fill out the CD.   This early version of the band provides all
of the features for which the band later became known.  The selections exemplify the
breadth of the book, containing as it does such variety.  Probably about half of the tunes
will be familiar, the rest introducing the listener to “new” numbers or renewing his or
her acquaintance with some not heard in some time, such as Sensation Rag, Kinklets,
Black Cat on the Fence, or My Journey to the Sky. Few bands have these in their
repertoires.

     The band’s penchant for ensemble playing is evident throughout, the first track,
When I Grow Too Old to Dream, making this clear.  Solos are judiciously inserted
between ensembles in many of the numbers, but it is the ensemble that is given
emphasis.  The first cut also exhibits the exuberance the members evoke while getting
their teeth into a tune.  It opens at a brisk tempo and never flags, the musicians
remaining energized, in spite of the weariness they might have been experiencing before
the downbeat.  In fact, several of the tempos were a bit of a surprise to me and I’m not
sure if the conditions referred to above played any part in their choice. Once in a While
comes roaring out of the gate and must have been a severe test (or trial) for Bullis as he
maintains the four/four on his banjo without wavering; his right hand must have been
something of a blur, I would imagine.  Other tunes that fall into this “unusually up-
tempo” category are Oriental Man and Joe Avery’s Piece.

     Bechet’s composition Dans les Rues d’Antibes is brisk—perhaps a bit more than
usual—but provides a fine vehicle for Stan McDonald on soprano sax.  Notable is the
exultant “whoop” on tuba with which Newberger ends the piece.  Newberger also is
amazing as always, playing the uninterrupted four/four on tuba that he manages
through circular breathing, no matter how fast the tempo, also keeping things moving
and not bogging them down as so many lesser tuba players do.

      Among the lesser-known pieces, My Journey to the Sky is, as Pringle says, “a lovely
gospel piece.”  The same can be said of I’m Travellin’ which, like Pringle, I first heard
played by the Crane River Jazz Band on an English Parlophone 78 record.  (The other
side was I Want a Girl Just like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad, played by the Saints
jazz band, both performances being recorded at a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in
London in the early 1950’s.)  I’m sure that Pringle would agree that it would be
instructive for the listener to also seek out the Crane River performance alluded to
above, and doing so takes nothing away from the superb New Black Eagles’ rendition
on this CD, one which provides a very entertaining hour and a quarter or so of
exhilarating jazz.  Thoroughly recommended.

    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.