George Buck, who parlayed a youthful passion for classic jazz to a lifelong business which produced more than a thousand LPs and CDs on nine different labels, died of a heart attack on December 11th 2013.
Buck sold newspapers on the street during World War II and put his earnings into savings bonds. To his father’s dismay, he cashed them in, hired his favourite musicians, and put out a 78-rpm set of the sides, featuring cornetist Wild Bill Davison, his all-time favourite, with clarinetist Tony Parenti’s band. The label grew slowly and steadily, though fifteen years later there were still only ten albums in the catalogue.
George Buck went into the radio business and made a living buying and selling small stations- he’d find an underperforming outlet, turn it around with a new format and more efficient management, and sell it at a profit. He used the profits from radio to subsidize the labels, and as small record producers gave up, he’d buy their catalogues and reissued them on one of his labels, each of which was devoted to a different genre.
Buck’s operations were originally cantered in New Jersey, and he was later in Columbia SC and Atlanta GA before finally relocating to New Orleans in 1987. Jazzology-GHB shares quarters on Decatur Street with the Palm Court Jazz Café, which is run by his widow, Nina. The facility includes a recording studio and the firm’s massive collection of master recordings.
The ownership of the firm was transferred to the George H Buck Jazz Foundation, organized by Buck to insure that the catalogue of music he assembled would remain in print eternally. Unlike most record companies, G.H.B-Jazzology never deletes records from the catalogue- virtually every CD in the catalogue is in stock and always will be. Unfortunately, most of the firm’s LPs were lost to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the firm’s warehouse and remain unavailable.
George Buck retained his boyish enthusiasm and zest for jazz throughout his life. He knew everyone in the jazz business, particularly his end of it- traditional jazz- and when he was younger he travelled all over the world to hear his favourites in festivals and jazz parties. Very few people get to spend their lives doing what most of us dream about- George Buck was able to make a living from a music most people eke out a living at- no one in his right mind would try to make a living from a music thought to be extinct about the time he started his label. He kept his firm running successfully for over sixty years and had a lot of fun doing it.
Buck is survived by his wife, Nina and his son, Bo, and four stepchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
12/12/13 - Sad news today. George Buck Jr. founder of Jazzology Records passed this morning after a heart attack. His contribution to Jazz cannot be underestimated, Jazzology, GHB, Audiophile, American Music - to name but a few of his labels carried the flame of our music. RIP George. - Louis Lince.
Yes, Well said Louis ! - Roger Browne
George did so much for jazz preserving the music of bands for, hopefully, years to come. I took part in what was, I think, the first British recording for George at The Free Trade Hall in about 1961 with the likes of Tony Smith, Chris Brown and Colin Knight. Like Joe I used to visit John Featherstone's house in Withington back in the ' 50's when we both played with the Jazz Aces. We would listen to the reel to reel tapes that George had sent. I remember it was the first time I heard Thelonious Monk and I remember a memorable recording by the Andrews Sisters with Patti singing the most obscene lyrics to " It Had to be You " . Apparently they had fluffed some notes and were making sure the record would never be released ! George did so much for jazz and we could do with a dozen of him to-day. I hope he gets a great send off.
Very sad about George. I still have a letter from him from many years ago when he came across a tape the band had made, and such was his enthusiasm for the band that he put it out on cd. It was high compliment and maybe more so because he was blind. I hope that his interest and enthusiasm for this music will be emulated by his successor.
Jon Critchley, The Original Panama Jazzband
George H. Buck Jr was a
personal friend of mine and I am sad he has passed away. However,
due to his long illness the relief of death is sometimes acceptable.
LP and CD Title Feelin'The
Spirit. Band name "CANAL STREET RAGTIMERS"
The result of this recording
lead to a very close friendship with George H. Buck, and Janet and I
went to stay with George and his first wife Eleanor on the outskirts
of Atlanta and met his son Bo. On one of the evenings the four of us
visited the local Jazz Club and I had the pleasure of playing with
trumpeter Ernie Carson and it was very exciting. On another evening
I joined in a broadcast with George and 5 others when we discussed
jazz its past and future plus some of GHB recordings being played.
The Zenith Six play Jelly
What a great follower and supporter of jazz and especially musicians still playing. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with him at his warehouse some twenty years ago, the amazing thing was he knew where every record was!
06/05/21 - Mart was in the
band John Featherstone used for the first recording for George Buck,
the Canal Street Ragtimers on “Feeling the Spirit”. It was a pick-up
band just for this record and Mart and Derek Gracie from the Zenith
6 were picked for it. I have a press cutting for 14th January 1962
announcing this record would be heard in the States but not here at
the time. A Melody Maker cutting gives the date of 28th October 1961
as the recording date. In 1959 the Zenith Six were featured on the
Carroll Levis Discovery radio programme and were on it each week –
no recordings unfortunately – it was before we had a tape recorder.
The Zenith Six had made a recording or two, but not for anyone
important, probably when John Barnes or Bob Wright were in the band
before Mart, while Mart was serving Queen and Country doing his
National Service. Bob Wright emigrated to Canada and set up the
Climax Jazz Band who we met over there and at the Vancouver DixiFest.
Bob had moved on when we met them. The bass player, Chris Daniels,
spoke to us when we were at the Indian Wells New Year Festival. Mart
wanted to visit an American festival so we went over just for a few
days’ holiday, it is in the Palm Springs area. Chris said to Mart,
“I played with your band at the Cavern in Liverpool once” and he was
from Hazel Grove and had played with Pete Staples in a band that
went to Switzerland for a jazz competition (name forgotten for the
moment). At Indian Wells another time Mart was sitting in with them
and the singer, Phil Harris got up and did a couple of numbers. He
played the voice of Barloo (?) in the film Jungle Book.