Jazz Avenues - April 2017

Buck Hill, pictured on his “Buck Stops Here” CD in 1993 for Muse Records, passed away last month at the age of 90.


We Appreciate Buck Hill

“[Billy] Hart remembers that Sonny Stitt always asked for Hill to be part of his group when Sonny would come to Washington, much as Milt Jackson has done in the same situation in recent years ... He also played with Gene Ammons ... and Miles ... even when Coltrane was in the band, Dizzy wanted Buck to go on the road with him ..." ―Ira Gitler, liner notes for “SCOPE” with the Buck Hill Quartet, SteepleChase Records, 1979

Our man with the golden horn, Roger “Buck” Hill, 90, has passed on to ancestry, Hall of Fame ancestry to be sure. It has been some years since Hill played his tenor sax but all of us who heard him during his heyday can still hear his remarkable flowing, imaginative riffs.

 “At [the now closed uptown club] Twins Lounge, late in the group's last set, there were still about fifteen people in the club, providing an intimate, living room feel to the music as Buck sails his way through ‘From Now On’ and ‘This Is My Shining Hour,’ with Buck's whipping flurries from his tenor and [Cheyney] Thomas comping fluidly on bass, [Nasar] Abadey's cymbals, ringing the tune along. Later still, Buck got down into the blues again with ‘Along Came Betty,’ then sailed off again into flurries and honks on ‘St. Thomas,’ taking the remaining faithful on a Caribbean carnival ride …”

―“Violet Avenues: A Poetry of Jazz,” by Steve Monroe, 1998

Funeral services were held March 26 at Westminster Presbyterian Church with a sumptuous feast and an appropriate celebration jam afterward by many of his fellow players. We appreciate you, Buck Hill, who entertained us mightily in many an April, Jazz Appreciation Month.


cafe au lait
going on
the bandstand
now riffing
gruff, rough
tones chopping melodies
he gots rhythm
we gots rhythm
diving planes
of hawkins
divided by webster
multiplied by gordon
he gots rhythm.
breezes into
guts bucket
blues blowing
now lullaby
my sweet
your golden horn
Clapping hands bow to you
smiling man
brims golden melody.”
―“Violet Avenues: A Poetry of Jazz”

April Highlights:… Paul Carr “All In” Quartet, April 9, Jazz and Cultural Society … University of the District of Columbia Small Jazz Ensembles, April 11, UDC Recital Hall … Tony Martucci Quintet/Ingrid Jensen, April 12, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club … Twins Jazz Orchestra, April 13, Twins Jazz … Howard University Jazz Ensemble, April 13, Smithsonian National Museum of American History/Coulter Plaza … Allyn Johnson, April 14, Montpelier Arts Center/Laurel … Bowie State Jazz Ensemble, April 14, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Discovery Artist/Marquis Hill Blacktet, April 14, Kennedy Center … Tim Whalen, April 14-15, Twins Jazz … DADA People, April 15, Atlas Performing Arts Center … Integriti Reeves/Ella Fitzgerald Tribute, April 16, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Erena Terakubo Quartet, April 18, Blues Alley … JAZZForum/The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron, April 19, University of the District of Columbia, UDC Recital Hall … Lenore Raphael Quartet/Oscar Peterson Tribute, April 19, Bethesda Blues & Jazz … Todd Marcus Orchestra, April 20, Atlas … Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, April 20, Museum of American History … Roberta Gambarini, April 21-23, Blues Alley … Greg Hatza/CD Release Party, April 21, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Celebrating Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th Birthday, April 22, Wesley United Methodist Church … Luis Faife Quartet, April 21-22, Twins Jazz … Jazz Talk/Allyn Johnson, April 23, Montpelier … Dr. Lonnie Smith, April 23, Creative Alliance/Baltimore … Jessica Boykin-Settles/Ella Fitzgerald Tribute, April 23, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Calvin Jones BIG BAND Festival, April 24, University of the District of Columbia Auditorium … Afro Blue, April 24, Blues Alley … Jazz Piano in LeFrak Lobby, April 24, 25, 26, 28, Museum of American History … Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra w/Sharon Clark, April 25, Blues Alley …Cyrus Chestnut, April 26, Bethesda Blues & Jazz ….  Andrew White’s 75th Birthday Celebration, April 26, Blues Alley … Jimmy Cobb/Four Generations of Miles, April 27-30, Blues Alley … George Washington University Latin Jazz Band, April 27, Museum of American History … Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald/Alison Crockett, April 28, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Thinking About Jazz/Ella Fitzgerald Celebrating 100 years, April 29, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Marty Nau, April 30, Twins Jazz … Imani Grace Cooper/Ella Fitzgerald Tribute, April 30, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Jazz Lecture/Ella Fitzgerald, Stefon Harris Master Class, April 30, Levine School of Music …

April Birthdays: Harry Carney 1; Booker Little 2; Jimmy McGriff 3; Stanley Turrentine 5; Randy Weston, Gerry Mulligan 6; Billie Holiday, Freddie Hubbard 7; Carmen McRae 8; Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau 12; Gene Ammons 14; Richard Davis 15; Bennie Green, Herbie Mann 16; Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente 20; Slide Hampton 21; Charles Mingus 22; Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson 24; Ella Fitzgerald 25; Teddy Edwards 26; Connie Kay 27; Duke Ellington 29; Percy Heath 30.

Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com or @jazzavenues.

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