Born: 1927 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Buck Hill is a living legend, who has been dazzling audiences for over forty years.
Born in 1927, Buck Hill started playing saxophone at the age of 13. By the mid-fifties, 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. He was discovered by Charlie Byrd and became a regular on the local jazz circuit, appearing with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Shirley Horn. In 1957, he appeared on his first recording with Charlie Byrd and later appeared on numerous recordings with Shirley Horn on the Verve label.
As a result of the dominance of rock music in the sixties, Buck went back to work for the post office. He continued to perform and devoted himself to teaching. Many years later, one of his most successful students, renowned drummer Billy Hart, arranged for Buck to begin his 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 success through the Village Voice and the New York Post. Yet throughout all of his success, he refused to give up his day job as a postman, thus leading to the moniker, the ‘Wailin’ Mailman.’ And that’s where you’ll find Buck in the annals of jazz history.
In the fall of 2000, Buck released “Uh Huh! Live at Montpelier” on the JazzMont label. Buck has been a staple of the local jazz scene at the Montpelier Arts Center since 1985. Eric Brace of the Washington Post said this record contained “…eight original compositions that are so melodically complete and so structurally satisfying that I wonder if they might become standards someday.” Since then Buck has performed at the Kennedy Center and the East Coast Jazz Festival. He still gigs regularly at the One Step Down. If you haven’t seen him play, you really should. How often do you get to see a legend? Let alone, one that delivered your mail.