by Bert Thompson
NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND—ON THE ROAD VOL. II (BE(CD)2011).
Playing time: 74m. 23s.
Salutation March; Old Stamping Ground*; Trog’s Blues; Rent Party Blues; All the
Girls Go Crazy*; Delia’s Gone; Love Songs of the Nile**; Oriental Man; Snag It.
Recorded at Hanley Castle School, near Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, U.K.,
May 24, 2004.
Personnel: Tony Pringle, cornet, vocal,* & leader; Billy Novick, clarinet & alto sax;
Stan Vincent, trombone; Bob Pilsbury, piano & vocal**; Peter Bullis, banjo &
manager; Barry Bockus, string bass; C. H. “Pam” Pameijer, drums.
Under the leadership of clarinetist Tommy Sancton, in 1969 a band was put together
in Massachusetts with the name “Black Eagles.” Included in the personnel were
Tony Pringle on trumpet and Eli Newberger on piano. Later Newberger moved to
tuba and Tony Pringle to cornet. By 1971 the band’s personnel had changed to
include Tony Pringle, cornet; Stan Vincent, trombone; Peter Bullis, banjo, Pam
Pameijer, drums; Eli Newberger, tuba; Bob Pilsbury, piano; and what would be the
first in a succession of reed players. Today, some thirty-eight years later, Pringle,
Vincent, Bullis, Pilsbury, and Pameijer are still with the band. On reeds, Billy
Novick has been with them since 1986, and on bass (now string, rather than brass)
since 2001 is Barry Bockus. Thus the personnel has been remarkably stable, and
playing together for all these years has resulted in a cohesiveness that few bands
This widely-travelled, long-lived band has long been one of my favorites. I must
confess, however, that in the last few years I have not kept up with their offerings
nor have I had opportunities to see them in performance, so it was a pleasure to see
this CD arrive in the mail for review. And I was not disappointed on hearing it.
None of the tunes have previously been issued on a Black Eagle CD. Some
appeared in the past on vinyl, but these on the CD are new renditions that invite
comparison with the older ones. (Old Stamping Ground, a favorite of Tony Pringle,
is a tune I had never heard before, as I suspect most other people will not either.)
While neither, CD or vinyl performance, suffers in this comparison, I must admit to
a certain disappointment that some of the old “signature” devices have been
dropped, seemingly. I recall the marvelous choruses where Pilsbury would take an
inimitable solo, the entire band dropping out behind him as he launched into
broken time, thundering out left-hand chords in the keyboard bass, even standing
when the excitement became too much for him. I didn’t hear anything that would
suggest he still does this.
Other joys were duets between cornet and banjo or clarinet and bass or some other
pairing with, again, the rest laying out, resulting in a variety of textures. Oftentimes
there were wonderful stop time choruses, the rhythm section (occasionally joined by
the others) laying down a one-two sequence or a two-three or a three-four or a one-
four (but seldom the more usual two-four) behind the soloist, making for interesting
contrasts with what preceded and followed it. But these are no longer in evidence,
However, the same leisurely treatment of the tune is still extant, most of the
numbers running an average of eight or so minutes, so all of the nuances can be
explored. Also the exciting building of a coda over several choruses, volume slightly
increasing on each, can still be heard on several tracks. Tempos are interesting, too,
some being taken a tad faster than one is used to hearing, perhaps, for particular
Those who attended the concert from which these tunes were selected will no doubt
enjoy the reprise this CD offers. Those, like me and probably most of us, who were
not get a taste of what it must have been like. And it may also bring back happy
memories of that November in 1984.
Ordering information can be found at the band’s web site: www.blackeagles.com.
New Black Eagles CD’s are also available from www.cduniverse.com and from
www.jazzbymail.com and possibly others.