Dick Buckley’s Baritone Bass Thread


That music playing in your head right now. Listen. Hear it?
Dick Buckley, who died today, on the hottest day of the year, could help you hear it better.

Spin a baritone bass rainbow colored thread through all the great jazz that ever was and ever will be and Dick Buckley will be the guy who could help you hear it better.

You don’t have to know jazz. You don’t even have to like jazz to appreciate what this man left behind. Although if you were a listener, before he was done with you, you would know jazz. If you listened regularly you would come to feel jazz in much the same way that you feel yourself breathing.

Because Dick Buckley was a guy who taught uncountable numbers of people to hear. Dick Buckley was the guy who made me hear the noble silence of the notes Count Basie didn’t play. Dick Buckley taught me the majesty in the silken street smart stories of the tall guy in the picture, Joe Williams. And most of all Dick Buckley kept front and center the legions of musicians who were sometimes forgotten through the years, the ones with the talent that stretched up to the dizzying heights of the skyscrapers that populate Chicago’s skyline. The unnamed players (unnamed by all but Dick Buckley) who had that moment in Jimmy and Marian McPartland’s back yard on a summer night just like this one. That session on the lawn that time Teagarden was stumbling through town and somehow managed to find his way to the McPartland’s back yard where he’d create something breathtaking on his trombone, and then Bud Freeman would take a turn, Marian on the piano, Jimmy on the cornet, Cousin Pidge, from the neighborhood would be looking on adoringly, while Eddie Condon smiled. And this was all a long, long time ago, way before your time, but because Dick Buckley was there you were too. Dick Buckley helped you hear it better. Dick Buckley remembered for all of us.

Cultural icons like Dick Buckley make every town a small town. And in this small town, I worked with Mr. Buckley’s son Jeff for a short time, many years ago. I remember the jaw dropping moment when I asked Jeff if he was related to Dick Buckley and he laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s my Dad.” I gushed some forgotten words of adoration. Jeff asked if I wanted an autographed picture. To which I mutely nodded yes. So to Jeff and all his family, my sincere outstretched hand in this time of sorrow. The world lost a cultural pillar. You lost a Dad.

Chicago hangs hot, heavy and still this sad summer night. Might rain, but if it does, it won’t break the heat. So I’ll put on some Joe Williams. I’ll hear how sad, I’ll hear the trouble he’s had. And when I hear him singing, I won’t feel so alone.

Dick Buckley taught me how to do that. Me and countless others.

Quite a gift Dick Buckley left the world.

“Happiness.”

5 Responses to “Dick Buckley’s Baritone Bass Thread”

  1. chicagoguy14 Says:

    (Photo Credit http://www.stopsmilingonline.com)

  2. Dale Says:

    Sweet, and nicely done. A loving, savoring tribute.

  3. Bee Pine Says:

    I sense what I missed–his obituary being my first knowledge of Dick Buckley.

  4. Stan Brager Says:

    Nice article about a man whose love of jazz and his ability to communicate worked for the betterment of all.

    One correction though: if Jimmy McPartland had a coronet, he’d have royal blood. He was, for many, king of the cornet players.

  5. 2010 in review « Says:

    […] Dick Buckley’s Baritone Bass Thread July 20104 comments 4 […]

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