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Buck Hill Upcoming Appearances In Celebration Of His New CD "Relax" on Severn Records

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Severn Records Is Pleased To Announce
Upcoming Appearances For Buck Hill
In Celebration Of His New CD Relax (Severn Records)

June 30th and July 1st
Twins Jazz
1344 U. St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202-234-0072

July 8th and July 20th
HR-57
1610 Fourteenth Street NW
Washington, DC
202-667-3700

July 20th
National Museum of Art
8th & G Streets NW
Washington, DC 202-357-2700

August 5th
Sabang Restaurant
2504 Ennalls Avenue
Whaeaton, MD 20902
301-942-7859

August 21st
Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007
202-337-4141

Buck Hill
Relax
Severn Records 0039
Street Date July 18, 2006

Relax, the first recording as a leader by the legendary tenor saxophonist Buck Hill in nearly fifteen years, marks the reemergence of one of America's greatest national treasures onto the international jazz scene. As he approaches his 80th birthday Hill remains a vital voice on his instrument, with a robust personal sound that reaches back to the horn's early masters, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, and onward into the glory days of bebop and beyond, recalling the powerful playing of Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane.

A lifelong resident of Washington, D.C., Hill first studied music with the same teacher who instructed a young Duke Ellington, and went on to become a member of the house band in the city's world famous Howard Theater. A fixture on the capitol jazz scene for over sixty years Hill revealed his enormous talent to the world beginning in the late seventies with a series of excellent records for Steeplechase and Muse. Guest appearance on several of fellow D.C. legend Shirley Horn's cd's brought him wider spread critical and popular notice in the '90's before he once again returned to the relative anonymity of his hometown.

On Relax, Hill's very first date leading his own organ combo (he recorded as a sideman with the great Shirley Scott ten years ago), he proves that he's still one of the best tenor men in jazz today. The group, featuring his regular bandmates John Ozment at the Hammond organ and Jerry Jones on drums, plus Paul Pieper on guitar, offers up some smooth and smoking straight ahead jazz on an eight song program split evenly between the leader's own original compositions and classic jazz material, including three Miles Davis compositions and one standard.

The opening R.H. is a bebopping burner by Buck, the title of which cryptically acknowledges the composer's rarely noted given name - Roger. Tenor and guitar execute the repetitive melody in unison on the head before Hill charges forward with a solo that shows that the “old man" can still play with all the fire and verve of his youth. Pieper and Ozment follow with their own statements before the leader returns to trade fours with Jones before the band takes it out.

The appropriately titled Relax is another appealing line by Hill. Introduced by the trio, Hill enters with a soulful swagger that summons memories of Stanley Turrentine's sound. Ozment is up first as Jones settles into a swinging shuffle that sets the soothing pace along with Pieper's tasteful comping. Hill's laid back but robust tenor solo is a model of his mastery of the blues idiom. Pieper's solo shows his assimilation of the classic stylings of Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell. An abrupt vocal invocation of the song's title ends the track with a humorous surprise.

Hill's reading of the chestnut Old Folks is as mature a statement on the tenor saxophone as one is likely to hear anywhere today. Buck takes his time with the tune, savoring the melody and the well chosen notes of his solo. The trio is exemplary in its accompaniment, wrapping the leader's horn in a warm blanket of sound, with Pieper stepping out front with a brief guitar solo.

Little Bossa is an enchanting Hill composition, first recorded over twentyfive years ago by the composer on his album Scope, the saxophonist's second set as a leader for Steeplechase that featured him with the all star rhythm section of Kenny Barron, Buster Williams and Billy Hart. This reprise is every bit as swinging as the original with Jones opening up on the Brazilian rhythm and Pieper and Ozment harmonizing brilliantly with Hill on the enjoyable melody upon which each one also takes a turn improvising skillfully.

Hill, who appeared on Shirley Horn's memorable I Remember Miles cd, once again memorializes the iconic trumpeter on this date, with his own personal interpretations of three Davis classics. The rarely heard Flamenco Sketches serves as a moving vehicle for the softer side of Hill's tenor saxophone as he blows mellow over the gentle accompaniment of Ozment and Pieper, each of whom also solos with a delicate touch as Jones dynamically navigates the piece's shifting rhythms.

Prancing, aka Pfrancing, first appeared on the Miles Davis album Someday My Prince Will Come, but has seldom been recorded since. The simple bluesy line is the perfect setting for Hill and his colleagues to stretch out. Guitar and tenor alternate phrases in a call and response pattern to open the piece before Hill digs in for soulful solo over a walking organ bass line, followed Ozment and Pieper, with Jones laying down a solid groove.

The final Davis composition of the date is the first of two compositions recorded by the trumpeter under the title Milestones. Initially heard on Davis's debut date as a leader, with Charlie Parker on tenor, legend has it that the piece was actually written for Davis by the session's pianist, John Lewis. The delightfully intricate melody, not heard nearly as often as the later, more popular title track to the Davis Milestones album, is flawlessly executed by the quartet with swinging solos by Hill and Pieper.

The date ends with another revival of a Hill original from his Scope record. The Sad Ones, a poignant piece of uncommon beauty, is brilliantly delivered by the tenor saxophonist, whose extended solo abounds with both elegance and sophistication to touchingly close this most rewarding cd.

The return of Buck Hill to the world of jazz recording is indeed a momentous occasion and cause for celebration. Hill plays the tenor with the authoritative voice of experience. His well seasoned sound is a link to the saxophone's glorious past and a lesson to those who wish to move the horn into the future. As he nears eighty he still has much to offer. Relax may very well be Hill's best effort yet, a true testament not just to his longevity, but also to his continued growth as a master saxophonist, bandleader and composer.

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