Originally, Hallelujah (Alleluia) was a word of praise and gratitude in a religious context. It still is, but now it is also an expression of profound joy and boundless appreciation. Hallelujah is high on my list of special words, so I use it sparingly. I need it today to pay tribute to an exceptional man and his music. What better way to recognize African Heritage Month than to gratefully and joyfully remember Nova Scotia's exceptionally talented and generous jazz musician and songwriter, Charles "Bucky" Adams, who passed away in July, 2012.
Bucky was born in Halifax in 1937. Apparently, his first public gig was in 1946 when he was hired to play his trumpet atop a cage of lions in a Barnum and Bailey Circus Parade on the Commons. He went on to mentor, inspire, and entertain thousands, and has been called "the key to the history of rhythm and blues in N.S."
Despite having been asked by Riley "Blues Boy" King , a renowned musician, to join his band; despite having played with Count Bassie, Dizzie Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Oscar Peterson and Louis Armstrong, who called Bucky "Pops", Bucky never left Nova Scotia to further his career. He enjoyed the life he had right here, having fun and doing what he liked to do.
What Bucky liked to do was volunteer with the Northwood Seniors' Band; visit schools in the Halifax area to introduce children to music and music history; perform in the Halifax Jazz Festivals, Jazz East concerts, the Halifax Mass Choir, and as a soloist for the Dan Warner Swing Orchestra. Bucky played at several Halifax clubs with his own bands and he produced CDs. He was awarded the UN International Gabriel Award for a CBC Radio Halifax feature.
Bucky, a self-taught musician, played the piano and all wind instruments, his special love being the tenor saxophone. He mastered a variety of musical genres, including Swing, R&B and Easy Listening. His obituary said that he had "a tender and unique style that came from the heart." Indeed he did, and our hearts answered, "Hallelujah!"
Jacqueline Warlow, a retired educator, lives in Dartmouth. Mother of 3 and grandmother of 6, she is a freelance writer and a "People With Tales" storyteller.