Whatever Happened to Bill Brunskill?

Bill Brunskill got involved in the jazz scene about the same time as Chris Barber and members of the Barber band along with others of that time—late forties/early fifties—but unlike them, he never did turn professional. That possibly accounted for his being less well-known than they. However, despite being semi-professional, Brunskill was no mean trumpet player and led some very competent bands, building quite a following and having some influence on the jazz that was developing in the U.K. (The significance of the title of this album, which was also that of a 1984 Thames Television documentary, is detailed in the liner notes to this album by Mike Pointon.) The session that comprises this CD was recorded at the 100 Club in London in 1976, and it was very well recorded by John and Renee Long. The balance is amazingly good, and the vocals are not off-mike, as is so often the case with live recordings. Perhaps on some of the tracks the bass, piano, and drums are just a little under recorded, but better that than the opposite! Brunskill appears to aim for the dancers, as the tempi seem to indicate, and dancers would surely have appreciated that, even though they would have had to make a quick change from the sedate 3/4 time of “Kentucky Waltz’” when, after a couple of times through, Hetherington plays a break into a fast four, and one can visualize the dancers in turn breaking
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Born in Dundee, Scotland, Bert Thompson came to the U.S. in 1956. After a two-year stint playing drums with the 101 st Airborne Division Band and making a number of parachute drops, he returned to civilian life in San Francisco, matriculating at San Francisco State University where he earned a B.A. and an M.A. He went on to matriculate at University of Oregon, where he earned a D.A. and a Ph.D., all of his degrees in English. Now retired, he is a professor emeritus of English at City College of San Francisco. He is also a retired traditional jazz drummer, having played 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 band; he also played with some further afield, including Gremoli (Long Beach, CA) and the Phoenix Jazzers (Vancouver, B.C.) Today he reviews traditional jazz CDs and writes occasional articles for several publications.

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