Buck Hill is a living legend who has been dazzling audiences for over forty years.
Born in 1927, Buck started playing saxophone at the age of 13. By the mid-50s he was married with three children and supporting them by driving a cab and delivering mail. Despite the family demands, he continued to practice and perform and was eventually discovered by Charlie Byrd, becoming a regular on the local jazz circuit and appearing with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Shirley Horn. In 1957, he appeared on his first recording with Charlie Byrd and later on numerous recordings with Shirley Horn on the Verve label.
As rock ‘n roll took hold in the ‘60s Buck was forced back to his beat at the post office. Still, he continued performing and devoting himself to teaching. This eventually led to a big break when one of his most successful students, renowned drummer Billy Hart, arranged for a solo recording career with Danish company SteepleChase. This Is Buck Hill and Scope saw the collaboration of Buck with jazz greats Kenny Barron and Ray Brown.
His performances and recordings received great critical acclaim, yet, despite these successes, he refused to give up his day job as a postman. This led to his moniker, “The Wailin’ Mailman” and that’s where you’ll find Buck in the annals of jazz history.
Buck has been a staple of the Washington, DC jazz scene and the Montpelier Arts Center since 1985. His fall 2000 release of Uh Huh! Live at Montpelier (JazzMont) led Eric Brace of the Washington Post to predict, “. . . compositions that are so melodically complete and so structurally satisfying that I wonder if they might become standards someday.”
If you haven’t seen Buck Hill play, you really should. How often do you get to see a legend? Let alone, one who may have delivered your mail.
Relax (Severn CD-0039 © 2006)
Uh Huh! Buck Hill Live at Montpelier (Jazzmont, 2000)
Northsea Festival (SteepleChase, 1997)
Shirley Horn – The Main Ingredient (Verve, 1995)
Impulse (Muse, 1992)
I’m Beginning to See the Light (Muse, 1991)
Shirley Horn – You Won’t Forget Me (Verve, 1991)
Shirley Scott – Great Scott! (Muse, 1991)
The Buck Stops Here (Muse, 1990)
Capital Hill (Muse Records, 1989)
Shirley Horn – Close Enough for Love (Verve, 1989)
Impressions (SteepleChase, 1983)
Plays Europe (Turning Point Records, 1982)
Easy to Love (SteepleChase, 1981)
Scope (SteepleChase, 1979)
This Is Buck Hill (SteepleChase Records, 1978)
Charlie Byrd – Byrd In the Wind (Riverside, 1959)
Charlie Byrd – Byrd’s Word! (Riverside, 1958)