youtube directed me to this video and I thought I’d share with you folks.
Eddy, what brand/make of tailpiece is on the cello banjo?
Thanks Sherry for making it live. The Gibson Cello Banjo was stock -- it was original. I bought it years ago from George Gruhn in Nashville and it went to Neil, a fellow in New Jersey that's gone now, so don't know where it is. I had 2 Cello Banjo's. The second was a B & D that was one of a pair that came from Walter K. Bower's Banjo Orchestra. I don't know where it is either. I never got a good response from my work with the New York Banjo Ensemble -- It left a bad taste in my mouth -- so it faded away. I was very HAPPY with the music and the GROUP, but the Banjo community never seemed to care -- so it faded away. The public response to our concerts was terrific, but the people that call themselves Banjo People are a bunch of "Strange Ducks". They have never really cared about the Banjo or it's future or history as long as I've been involved -- and that's been 60 years of playing. They talk about caring about the banjo, BUT the only thing they really care about is there ego. All my observations turn out that way. Give me a banjo and let me "BEAT ON IT!" I love you all, but let's be honest. Then we can enjoy ourselves.
Looking forward to seeing you all at All-Frets in Buffalo in July. Eddy (just a Minstrel) Davis
I hear you, Eddy. Many banjo players (especially 30+ years back) were more focused on their own personal enjoyment in amateur ensemble playing that they ignored the deeper history of the instrument family and it's broad and deep diversity. I was SO BLESSED to be invited to sub in the cello chair with the NYBE with yourself, Cynthia and Frank Vignola, plus Howard Alden, Wayne Wright, Mike Peters, Pete Compo and Joel Eckhaus at various points. It provided a key part of the foundation which I now teach in the Jazz History course at my college. There are a number of good, interested younger players today - but I regret that the failure of the larger banjo community in that past time to support and promote innovative approaches. It kept the Ensemble under the wider public radar AND perpetuated the perception of the banjo as a "specialty/novelty/old-time" artifact. That (along with influences of market-segmenting and technology) makes earning cultural respect and appreciation for banjo as both an historic and vital instrument more difficult today.
My late pal, banjo player and former congressman Otis Pike tried for years to get the banjo enshrined on a US postal service stamp...to my knowledge, that still hasn't happened.
BTW - I loved playing that Gibson trap-door cello!!
I always have the NYBE disc in rotation, and will listen to it on a little 3hr drive this morning. I just want to play some nice chords and some cool lines, maybe pick up a bar gig once in awhile on my tenor. I'm happy. Thanks again for all the great material Eddy.
I was sorry to see the painful comment made at 3:10 on the time code. The clueless moderator says: "So, do you feel 'g-o-o-f-y' when you play the banjo?" He just had a front row seat at a world class duet on two species of four-string banjo, but it's all completely lost on this guy. Chances are he's never heard music like this before and that's the best line he can come up with. Some people just can't be reached. Why? They simply don't have the gray matter for it. Close-minded people like this are quick to buy into an old prejudice. When I play the banjo, I usually feel empowered, exhilarated and like I'm preserving something I really care about. It's my second religion. The banjo is a great blessing if there ever was one.
Edited by - Omeboy on 05/17/2018 07:07:57
Thanks to you all for your responses. I had asked about the cello banjo tailpiece because I recently bought a used, homemade/handmade, minstrel-style 4-string cello banjo and I’m trying to troubleshoot the problem of the D string breaking. I think the problem might be the current tailpeice is allowing the strings to rub against the metal hoop.
I bought this cello banjo because about 10 years ago I hear one played and thought it had such a cool sound and tone. As I continue to check off items on the bucket list I came to “Learn to play tenor banjo” which was followed immediately by “Buy Cello Banjo.” Making progress!
If either of you, Eddy or Bob, might have cello banjo parts for tunes you could share I would appreciate it. I didn’t know the NYBE recording still was available. I’ve only seen the youtube videos. I’’ll look for the cd. The quartet sound, for me, is a wonderful approach to the music.
Thank you, Eddy, for all you’ve done for the instrument and the music. Play on!!
And, I don’t know how the font changed while typing this this post!
Maybe you could revive the NYBE Eddy. A reunion type of thing. That would be cool as all get out. Do you still have all the scores?
When and where will the Bela Fleck or John Bullard of the tenor banjo arise? As innovative and pioneering Bela and John are for the five-string. Each in their own way. And plectrum banjo has Buddy Wachter, Cynthia Sayers, and probably a few more greats outside of the US, of course. But tenor banjo seems perennially welded to dixieland. Not permitted to travel anywhere else That, anyway, what most musicians in the UK seem to be thinking. The only exception to that iron rule, perhaps, Dutch banjo ace Arno Hagenaars. Well worth checking out on YouTube.
And speaking of YouTube: most modern banjo orchestras captured there I find annoyingly clunky. The same applies, by and large, to ad-hoc banjo trios or quartets. In their simplest form each of the participants soloing in turn and, when not soloing, just strumming four in a bar. What always strikes me is how little fantasy or adventure there is, in such temporary outfits. I usually don't have much patience for this,
The New York Banjo Ensemble, on the other hand, is the very opposite of all that, in my viiew. Even years after disbanding still standing way out of the usual crowd, in the great care taken in the expressiveness of each individual voice and the total sum of their sheer musicality. NYBE's rendition of Rhapsody In Blue, for instance, one recording I often return to.
So I agree wholeheartedly with David, above. Yes please, Eddy: DO revive NYBE, if you can bring up that courage. I'd love to hear what the four of you would do with Shostakovich Jazz Suites, for example. And incidentally: NYBE is still a huge inspiration as to my own efforts in recreating a four piece banjo ensemble digitally.
For a while it looked as if any future in music was drawing to a definite close for me. I have been dreading that very much, in weeks and months past. And it may still take a while before I'll be able to make and record music again. But the main thing is that my digital one-man banjo quartet, too, may still stand a second chance! Without NYBE I doubt that would have happened.
Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 05/29/2018 14:54:16
Thanks for all the nice words about the NYBE! And thanks M for pointing me to this discussion.
Eddy Davis came up with the wonderful concept – and the instruments -- for the NYBE. We both wrote arrangements and developed a book for the group, and we put together some good programs. Eddy ran the band for a short time, but didn’t want to continue so I took it over. I got us a recording contract with Kicking Mule Records and a bunch of concert engagements.
However, as a young, newbie bandleader, I discovered something that hadn't even occurred to me: just because it's a cool musical group, that doesn't mean it would be easy to book us gigs! In spite of my determination, selling the NYBE was an uphill battle. Presenters couldn’t wrap their brains around a quartet of banjos playing everything from Satie and Prokofiev to Jelly Roll Morton and Gershwin. So I decided I had to put my energy elsewhere in order to pay my rent, and stopped the group. I still have all of our charts.
I like to think that the NYBE would be more easily embraced today, but who knows…. In any event, it was certainly a terrific musical experience.
I love this group Cynthia. I listen to you all the time. I surely hope now is the time to get everyone back together! Those charts, and arrangements are golden, and I'm so glad you still have them in your possession!
You may try the more progressive music/banjo/ festivals around the Country now. I would surely hope they would embrace you with open arms.
Rockygrass, or Telluride Colorado should be a good place to start.
The tenor banjo is alive and growing in interest in my opinion. Great Irish banjo players and many celtic banjo enthusiasts.
Cynthia, If you have the energy I agree with David that now is a good time to re-form NYBE. Plenty of festivals and venues, depending on your desire and willingness to travel, are looking for and willing to hire new and interesting music groups. The NYBE members have years of performance experience. Its what people call a "no-brainer." I don't know who of the four still is willing but it might be worth asking. If all of the original four weren't available I think there might be other qualified players in the northeast US who might make the effort for this good musical cause.
Anyway, thanks to you and Eddy for all the great music you shared with us.
I agree. Notwithstanding that Cynthia is is my instructor, the NYBE is some of the sweetest music I have on my iPhone!
Edited by - mfbrin on 06/02/2018 09:14:23
I also think that this is a good time to get the NYBE back together.
Cynthia and Eddy get busy and do it!
love this group Cynthia. I listen to you all the time. I surely hope now is the time to get everyone back together! Those charts, and arrangements are golden, and I'm so glad you still have them in your possession!
Cynthia, If you have the energy I agree with David that now is a good time to re-form NYBE.If all of the original four weren't available I think there might be other qualified players in the northeast US who might make the effort for this good musical cause.
I have a little story to tell.
I once was part of a band that never could agree on its musical identity. Its core product was Trad & Swing, basically, but as to individual preferences, six out of seven looked down on any jazz style from, say, before 1960. Especially all expressions of 'Trad' lumped together in what was not only termed 'dixieland', contemptuously, but also treated contemptuously (i.e with a lack of care and interest that couldn't be plainer). On the other hand, though, the taste for "modern", as almost universally professed, and what that ACTUALLY is supposed to mean always remained unclear: a credible, workable definition of "modern" something none of its propagators ever succeeded in formulating successfully. For as long as that outfit existed.
At one time, long after I left, I lost the bulk of my jazz archive, in circumstances beyond my influence or control, and only part of it could be retrieved with assistance of our then sound engineer with whom I somehow got in touch again. Only a couple of years back, shortly before the one and only reunion we ever had, I sent bits and bobs of that back catalogue out to former band members I still had an address of. Reactions to that amounting to surprise and amazement at how good we actually were at what we were doing, some three decades ago. Even if that was playing reviled "dixieland".
NYBE seems to represent the diametral opposite of the attitude as described above: precise and wonderfully loving musicality in whatever they touch. But as Cynthia describes earlier on in this thread, "Presenters couldn’t wrap their brains around a quartet of banjos playing everything from Satie and Prokofiev to Jelly Roll Morton and Gershwin". Part, I believe, of the eternal bias that music like that cannot/ought not to be played on what "basically" "are" novelty instruments. But tastes evolve. And most of all: NYBE left a terrific legacy that never ceases to give joy to all contributing to this thread. And probably to untold many more not venting an opinion here.
So yes: hear hear to David and everyone else in favour of NYBE reforming. As Malarz rightly puts it: the question is certainly one worth asking. Now is indeed the time. I agree with that, too. Full-heartedly.
One thing more, in conclusion: Eddy, Cynthia & Joel (in case he's reading this, too) - in case you happen to decide to bring NYBE back to the world, would you please be so kind to put in a European tour as well, at some time? Thank you.
Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 06/03/2018 13:05:35
Eddy and Cynthia - it’s never too late to give it a try and see where it could go. Would love to see some new videos of the NYBE!
I had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia at a talk and demonstration she gave at Jazz At Lincoln Center last year. It introduced, reintroduced in some cases, people to the fact that banjo has a long jazz pedigree.
I am old enough (just) to remember Shakey’s Pizza and Farrell’s Ice Cream parlors as a kid. And I remember the theme from “The Adventures Of Huck Finn” segment on Hanna-Barberra’s “Bannana Splits Show.” That was my first exposure to the banjo. I also remember The Stampeders hit song “Sweet City Woman” and Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime”.
But up until I finally took up banjo a year and a half ago, began learning its history and discovered wonderful players like Eddy, Cynthia, Pat Cloud, Ryan Cavanaugh, Bela Fleck, etc, etc (and ALL of y’all here at BHO), I didn’t hear much jazz banjo unless it was on the New Orleans-trad-Dixieland continuum.
I think the banjo, in all its four string guises, has some similarities to the clarinet in that for many players, and most listeners, it became tied to an earlier era. But the clarinet has, over the last decade or so, staged a bit of a comeback. The so-called “Downtown”/avant-garde jazz scene especially seems to appreciate its sound. I think that can and will also hold true for the banjo in all its forms, but particularly the four string versions.
Put it this way: I am in no way up to the standard of such as Eddy and Cynthia. But when I play, people tell me “I didn’t know a Banjo could sound like that” or “it’s not bluegrass, it’s jazz.” Those remarks tell me that people are receptive to (borrowing a Beastie Boys album title), “The New Sound From Way Back,” jazz (or jazz inflected) banjo. I think exposure to world-class players such as the NYBE would drive the point home for a lot of listeners.
If you all restart the NYBE, try to hook up with venues like The Stone or the Downtown Music Gallery. I think you will find a receptive audience.
I’m truly touched to know that even after all this time, the NYBE can make such an impact! Thank you so much for that – your posts have been a gift.
The reality is that since I don't have the basic tools – a cello banjo & a piccolo banjo -- or the bandwidth to add anything else to my already-full plate at this time, I don't see me mounting an NYBE comeback anytime soon. That said, if anyone wants to source the instruments and book concerts for the NYBE, I’m open to hear your offer :-)
Edited by - cnsayer on 06/05/2018 12:45:17
'Beat up Deering Basic' 10 min