Buck Hill, the Wailing Mailman
Renowned saxophonist Buck Hill (born 13 February 1927) —a mainstay of the Washington, D.C. jazz scene for more than 60 years, known as the “Wailing Mailman” for his day job with the U.S. Postal Service— died 20 March 2017, at age 90.
20 March 2017.
"Mr. Hill was a native Washingtonian who never left his hometown, despite having the talent and offers to make a bigger splash. He began performing in the 1940s, when the clubs and theaters along the District’s U Street corridor were known as the “Black Broadway.” ¶ Long considered Washington’s premier tenor saxophonist, Mr. Hill shared the stage with jazz royalty such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Max Roach. Whenever saxophonist Sonny Stitt came to Washington, he sought out Mr. Hill for friendly “cutting sessions,” or tests of a musician’s improvisational skill. ¶ Mr. Hill was known for a round, robust tone on his primary instrument, tenor saxophone. (He occasionally played the clarinet and soprano saxophone.) He also composed many tunes, some of which appeared on the dozen or so albums he recorded from 1978 to 2006. Critics discovering him for the first time often considered him a hidden star. ¶ Mr. Hill often showed up for work at the post office at 4 a.m. to practice his saxophone before sorting and delivering the mail. He retired in 1998 after more than 40 years with the Postal Service. "
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