The new Black Eagle Jazz Band • Black Eagle Skuffle – The Syncopated Times


A few years ago, when examining the Missing pieces CD, I wrote this:

In two years, the New Black Eagle Jazz Band will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Over the course of this half-century, there have been, almost inevitably, several personnel changes, but despite this the ‘sound’ of the band has remained constant in large part thanks to the distinctive cornet style of frontman Tony Pringle helped. by the constant pulse provided by Peter Bullis on the banjo, the two musicians who have been, as the back inlay says, “the soul and backbone of the band for forty-seven years”. The backline has always provided a rhythmic, yet light, 4-beat base that the frontline could dance to, whether the bass instrument was brass or strings. The rhythm has never been and never is heavy, the one on which the inimitable Pringle led the ensemble to the cornet. It was therefore a blow for the group when these two pillars died….

These two years have now passed, and the group is celebrating its 50th anniversary, the occasion being marked by the release in 2020 of this digital CD: Black Eagle Skuffle. And the feelings that I expressed re Missing pieces are also applicable to this CD. As anyone familiar with the band will see from the staff below, the musicians are the ones who have populated the band for a long time. Although Eli Newberger has not been a member for many years now, he is featured on several tracks on this album. His tuba playing is as close as possible to that of a double bass – light, four-stroke most of the time (thanks to circular breathing), propelling the rhythm section with the banjo. Barry Bockus on double bass plays the same role, so throughout the CD we hear this catchy rhythm section, the band absolutely smoking as they get to the codas of most numbers. The excitement is palpable, and I’ve seen spectators stand up as they get carried away by it.

The group drew on their archives to select the songs that appear in this collection, all of which have already appeared on other releases. Collectively, they provide a good overview of the types of melodies that players find appealing. We thus find ragtime (“Sensation, a Rag”), blues (“Aunt Hagar’s Children’s Blues”), spirituals (“Sweet Fields”), hymns (“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”), songs pop (“All the Girls Go Crazy”), a march (“Trombonium”, although I personally think one of their other marches, like “El Albanico”, “Moose March”, “Salutation March” could have been a better choice), a piece of cake (“Swipesy Cakewalk”), and an original composition (“Black Eagle Skuffle”). All of this adds up to a good cross section of the band’s repertoire. And all the tunes are played with the enthusiasm that characterizes the Black Eagles.

While die-hard Black Eagles fans will no doubt already have many or most of these tracks if they have a large number of the band’s 40+ CDs, jazz fans who don’t fit into this category will find this CD. a rare treat and aficionados will likely come out of it. The focus of the group is on ensemble work, rather than solos, although the latter are adapted.

Trademarks of the Black Eagles are represented, such as the variety of textures achieved by devices such as the ensemble dropping out to let the tuba and banjo carry a chorus or two or another duet doing the same. Or it could be the ensemble abruptly halting, leaving Bob Pilsbury to continue as a soloist for several choirs as he gives a lesson in dynamics by gently touching the keys and then bursting into two-fisted block chords, sometimes. even climbing up from the bench piano to hold onto the keyboard as the rest of the group rejoin.

The ensemble is also adept at using dynamics to frame the various choruses, moving from a mellow expression to a thunderous climax. As the late Tony Pringle rightly asserted, the band is one of a kind: “We are known for our very recognizable style which, although heavily influenced by New Orleans jazz styles, is very good. ours. ” That’s all.

Information on this and on their other CDs can be obtained by visiting the group’s “online store” at, then clicking one buttons below: Mail Orders or Digital Orders.

The New Jazz Band Black EagleBlack Eagle Skuffle • Own label (BEiJazz 1001) Playing time: 69m. 10s.

Sweet fields; trombonium??°; Cairo purple rose; Black Eagle Skuffle; Sensation, a cloth; The royal telephone *??; Tired blues; What a friend we have in Jesus; Swipesey [sic] Cakewalk§; Lead me Savior; Aunt Hagar’s children’s blues??; In the land of glory; All the girls go crazy *

All tracks recorded between June 22, 1985 and February 27, 2004. Details given in the inlay of the case.

Tony pringle, vsornet, song *; Billy Novick, vslarinette, alto saxophone; Vincent vincent, trombone, vocal †; Bob pilsbury, piano; Pierre Bullis, banjo; CH “Pam” Pameijer, Drums; Barry bockus, string of characters low; Eli Newberger, tuba (replaces Bockus) ‡; Butch Thompson, clarinet (added) °; Hugh Blackwell, clarinet (replaces Novick) §.

The new Black Eagle Jazz Band • Black Eagle Skuffle

Born in Dundee, Scotland, Bert Thompson arrived in the United States in 1956. After spending two years playing drums with the 101st Airborne Division Band and performing a number of airdrops, he returned to the United States. civilian life in San Francisco, enrolling at San Francisco State University, where he obtained a BA and an MA. He then enrolled at the University of Oregon, where he earned a DA and Ph.D., all degrees in English. Now retired, he is Professor Emeritus of English at City College in San Francisco. He is also a retired traditional jazz drummer, having performed with a number of San Francisco Bay Area bands including And That’s Jazz, Professor Plum’s Jazz, the Jelly Roll Jazz Band, Mission Gold Jazz Band and the Zenith New Orleans Parade group; he has also performed with other musicians from further afield, including Gremoli (Long Beach, CA) and the Phoenix Jazzers (Vancouver, BC). Today he reviews traditional jazz CDs and writes occasional articles for several publications.

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Henry R. Wright

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