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.  

 Lars Edegran

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.

12/12/13 -

Yes, Well said Louis ! - Roger Browne

12/12/13 -

Please thank Louis Lince on our behalf for passing on the very sad news about George Buck Jr. Otherwise, those of us who appreciated George's gargantuan efforts to promote Jazz worldwide, might not have known. We have lost a great man. If there is any way to pass my condolences to his family and to his faithful "Minder", whose name I forget, but which began with 'M' (something like "Mauncie"), I would like to be added to the list for condolences.

George Buck Jr was indeed a sizeable contributor to Jazz, and particularly here in Britain and even more specifically in the North West, by allowing so many individual musicians and bands to record on his labels. What many people didn't know, was that he was blind. But his enormous enthusiasm for many styles of Jazz and Blues made him overcome all the barriers of blindness, to bring great sounds to the world. I first heard about him in the early 60s at the late John Featherstone's house in Withington. John and George, instead of writing to each other, because George was blind, they exchanged cassettes with texts and music on them. Occasionally, John would also receive records from George. So we young "green" enthusiasts would listen intently for hours to some wonderful music; which was mostly Nicksieland, not always N.O. It was largely their relationship that brought about the recordings that would later take place, affecting so many musicians on the Manchester scene. John himself was highly instrumental in that happening.

I was never one of the privileged musicians (probably too modern) to record on the Jazzology label, although a BBC unofficial recording that I was involved in with the Tony Smith Jazzmen in 1961 or 62, ended up in Preservation Hall, and was discussed by the great boffins of that wonderful institution from time to time. However, I'm happy for the Manchester Jazz scene, as a whole, that many of my fellow musicians in various local bands, represented the Manchester area, thanks to George. I'll leave them to make their own acts of respect. I certainly remember The Zenith 6 cutting several records (in Mart Rodger's time with the band), and musicians from the Southside Stompers and other were heavily involved in recordings in the 60s and 70s (particularly Roy Bower and Tony Smith (tpts), and Moe Green (dms). The lads did us proud with a joint-ensemble from several bands to produce Feeling or Living the Spirit.

I hope that George's passing isn't the end of an era, and that recordings of local musicians of the chosen style leanings will go on regardless, under new management. May God rest his generous soul and spirit.

Joe Silmon-Monerri

13/12/13 -

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.

Moe Green

13/12/13 -

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

 13/12/2013 -

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.

George asked pianist John Featherstone to put together a group of Manchester musicians to record a selection of religious numbers and I was highly honoured to be included. The rest of the line-up was as follows:-

Roy Bower - Trumpet
Tony Smith - Trumpet
Martin Rodger- Clarinet
Chris Brown - Trombone
John G. Featherstone - Piano
Derek Gracie - Banjo
Colin Knight - Double Bass
Derek Hamer - Drums Tracks 1 to 5
Mo. Green - Drums Tracks 6 to 10

LP and CD Title Feelin'The Spirit. Band name "CANAL STREET RAGTIMERS"
Tracks 1 to 5 recorded October 15th 1961. Tracks 6 to 10 recorded January 14th 1962.

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.

Following this advancement of our friendship George invited recordings as follows:-

The Zenith Six play Jelly Roll Morton
Zenith Six - City of a Million Dreams
Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz - Jazz Tale Of Two Cities
Mike Pembroke's Hot Seven - Chicago Buzz
Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz - 1997 Recordings For George H. Buck jr.

I still have the encouraging letters I received from George from time to time. It was a lovely surprise to meet George and his second wife Nina when MRMJ were playing in Haugesund a few years ago.

George is a member of my select list of wonderful friends and I feel most privileged to be able to say I am glad to have been so close to him.

Mart Rodger

16/12/13 -

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!

Malcolm Horne

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.

George Buck was so pleased hearing Mart that he mentioned him in a letter to John. “I was especially impressed by the clarinet work of Mart Rodger, he is truly a very gifted artist. I am going to keep the second tape of Old Rugged Cross featuring him on clarinet and issue it under his name sometime in the future when I have enough odd items to fill up an LP. If it should be his desire to cut second takes on any of the other seven numbers by all means let him as I will issue them under his name. I think he is worthy of recognization.” I have corrected George’s spelling of Mart’s name – he had very bad eyesight and was considered blind. He could type though, so the letter is typed and he must have learned to touch-type before his eyesight went so bad. John Featherstone was very frightened that Mart would want to use this letter for publicity and Mart had to agree that he wouldn’t.

I can’t remember where the “Feeling The Spirit” was recorded and George didn’t put such details, or dates of recordings, on his records. However, I had a note that the Zenith Six ones were recorded in Record Rendezvous in Manchester. Mart’s recording for Jazz Tale of 2 Cities was recorded in Strawberry Studios. Mart came home absolutely fed up as Alan Hare came drunk. Wonderful. They had to book another date and did it then. Mart must have threatened Alan Hare if he did that again he would be sacked. (Alan said he had been attacked and had to stop for a drink to calm down!) There were one or two recordings done in Macclesfield for a bloke called Steve Plews but I don’t know what they were now.

The Part 1 of “ Zenith Six play Jelly Roll Morton” was recorded first, and the second one was only because George was so happy with it. An American critic sounded off about there being no pianist on it! The Zenith never had a pianist until Alan Pendlebury got the band and brought his brother Keith in! They were originally two separate records. George decided to put Mart on a compilation CD called “City of a Million Dreams”. Mart had just 2 numbers, the Zenith Six had 3, George Lewis/Kid Thomas Ragtime Stompers had 1, Kid Martyn New Orleans Ragtime Band had 2, The Lakefront Loungers had 2 and Sayles’ Silver Leaf Ragtimers had just 1. The musicians with Mart on this one were John Featherstone, Derek Gracie, Colin Knight, with Derek Hamer on drums on “The Old Rugged Cross” and Mo Green on “ Lord Let Me in the Lifeboat”. The band is called “Mart Rodger’s Clarendon Rhythm” and it can be heard on U-Tube under that name. You have to wait about 4 minutes of an advert to get to the music but it’s worth it! I contacted George Buck’s organization in New Orleans to tell them that this recording was put on by Orchard Enterprises as I had never heard of them. They replied that they had an arrangement to use some George Buck records and were quite happy with the money they were getting as it was more difficult all the time to sell CDs now and they found this was a good way to get their commissions! George had slapped his copyright on all our recordings for him but didn’t realize Mart already had done that with a couple of numbers and George had to cough up, especially to Colin Smith as he had the copyright for his compositions.

Janet Rodger

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