Saying Goodbye to The Palm Court

Nina Rimington and George Buck met once again in Atlanta, Georgia in 1984 when the effervescent mother of three was looking for a job with George’s ever-growing business. The story of Palm Court Jazz Cafe is the story of Nina and George Buck who married in 1986. He owned over nine record labels with a portfolio of approximately 15 AM radio stations specializing in traditional New Orleans jazz, gospel, and big band genres.

He was a true American entrepreneur who devoted much of his life to recording jazz by producing albums and acquiring the rights to those produced by companies established by others. He acquired the inventories of record labels and transcriptions disks made by radio broadcasting companies decades earlier. He was a major record collector. Until his death at age 84 in 2013, he ran his businesses and philanthropic enterprises. He began his radio career as a partner in radio station WJNO in West Palm Beach, FL.

Red Wood Coast

Nina, originally from England, brought her own passion for the traditional New Orleans jazz scene having been married to one of the UK’s most prominent clarinetists, Sammy Rimington, father to her three children. They were married in December 1965 and, after living on the East Coast, moved to New Orleans for a few years before moving back to the United Kingdom. Nina is an excellent cook and her many years of traveling with Sammy is chronicled in his book A Life in Pictures that was published in 2013.

In addition to raising her three children, Nina was a formidable creative force in their partnership and arranged their many band tours in both the United States and Europe. Band members from both continents were invited to attend various festivals and weekend gigs. Both she and Sammy knew hundreds of musicians and recording executives including Mr. Buck. They were together for approximately 18 years before going their separate, but still to be musically-entwined, ways. Nina then contacted Mr. Buck in Atlanta in 1984, where they later married and then moved to New Orleans in 1987. Two dynamic individuals now joining forces converging on the Big Easy for good!!

Mr. Buck was legally blind but had an incredible memory. He was often on the 2nd floor of the Palm Court Building that housed the recording studio and his extensive library of records, books, CDs, and cassettes that were the result of his business holdings. One would walk up the stairs from the French Market side of the building after “buzzing in” and ask for some of the latest offerings or inquire about existing items for purchase. Then Mr. Buck would give directions to his assistant who would retrieve the requested item: “the third bookcase along the south wall, second shelf on the left”—he knew where every thing was located in that large room filled with thousands of precious components!

Hot Jazz Jubile

A brief history of Mr. Buck’s life was profiled in various local publications:

Born December 22, 1928, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, he rose to prominence as the leading figure in the preservation and advancement of authentic traditional jazz. He started out selling newspapers during World War II and converting the profits into war bonds. He took this money and recorded his first session with his favorite musicians, Wild Bill Davison and Tony Parenti on Jazzology Records. Soon after, he began recording New Orleans style jazz on GHB Records. He began yearly pilgrimages to New Orleans in 1961, cementing his relationship with the city by immersing himself in the culture and recording the artists who lived in the city.

Buck developed a passion for radio after hosting a radio show in college, which he dubbed, Jazzology. This early involvement in radio led him to buy many small, under performing radio stations beginning with WCOS in Columbia, South Carolina, and turn them around with new formats and improved management. All of his profits from this went to support his growing list of record labels. He started and bought many labels in order to make sure this music would survive. He issued recordings of most forms of jazz through nine labels: Jazzology, GHB, Circle, Southland, American Music, Black Swan, Audiophile, Progressive, and Solo Art.

His passion, love, and enthusiasm for jazz never diminished. He and his wife, Nina moved the operation to New Orleans in 1987 and in 1989 expanded further by opening the Palm Court Jazz Café, which became an important part of New Orleans jazz culture under the management of his wife. The GHB Jazz Foundation houses the record business and is located on the second floor of the same building in the French Quarter.

“My greatest pleasure is doing jazz.” “I loved it from the first time I heard it. It spoke my language.” –  George H. Buck, Jr.


He produced nearly 700 broadcasts during his years in New Orleans. The programs were originally recorded on cassettes. In recent years, most of the programs were transferred to compact discs. An archive of these programs is kept in New Orleans and at the WAVO studios in Charlotte, NC. Buck’s sign off was “This is recordially yours, George Buck. Wishing you the best of everything and good jazz listening. Bye bye and buy bonds!”

Jason Berry’s George Buck’s Legacy: Spreading the Message of Jazz is an excellent read about this inspiring gentleman.

Nina thought that the lower floor of the recently purchased building on Decatur, would make a wonderful cafe modeling it after ones she had visited in England. She hired the contractors and architect to bring her vision to reality. With a mahogany bar, high ceilings, exposed brick walls, mosaic tiled floors, lace cafe curtains, and a Steinway grand piano, the Palm Court Jazz Cafe was born. In January of 2022, we met architect, Francisco Alecha, at another venue who explained how he created sound baffles hidden in the wood trimmed “squares” as part of the ceiling decorations. The acoustics in the L-shaped restaurant were terrific. He said he enjoyed working with Nina on the project as she knew exactly what she wanted!


When Palm Court opened up in 1989, Nina developed many of the recipes and did a lot of the cooking and most of the general kitchen duties at that time. Current chef, Bobby Davis, was 14 when she hired him to clean the premises and eventually take over the kitchen responsibilities as well. Bobby’s wife, Eliene, was the bartender and over the years, their daughter and niece also worked the floor. It was “family” for anyone that entered the door!

There were hundreds of musicians from all over the world that played at Palm Court. Nina was on good terms with them all, including Sammy Rimington, who would visit at least annually during the Jazz Fest. When first daughter Louise left England to live in New Orleans that was another reason to visit as all parties remained on good terms with each other. Son Sammy Jr. still lives in England and daughter Sasha lives in France.

Nina Buck among her many friends on the last night of The Palm Court (photo by Chantell Nabonne)

The New Orleans musicians held a special place in their hearts for the Palm Court Jazz Cafe and at least 30-40 musicians were there on the last weekend of June 1st and 2nd. The room was shoulder-to-shoulder with patrons and musicians enjoying the last moments of this iconic venue. On June 1st, Nina received a Proclamation from the City of New Orleans presented to her by Louisiana State Senator Royce Duplessis. She was gracious and beaming with pride as it also acknowledged George’s contributions together with manager Kathy Edegran and chef Bobby Davis.


The nightly stages were filled with many musicians each set as everyone was eager to “jam” and dancers filled the remaining spaces on the ever shrinking dance floor! Danny Barker’s original tune, “The Palm Court Strut,” made everyone get up and “shake it to the left, shake it to the right.” The evening’s final performances had as many people that could fit on stage for photo opportunities for the local publications and patron “selfies.”

It was a magical weekend and since the announcement on May 3rd, the venue was filled each night with patrons wanting to get a last glimpse of Nina’s “fourth’ child.


We have made it a priority (even during the hectic Jazz Fest schedules) to visit Palm Court when in New Orleans for the last 30 years and have many, many wonderful memories of not only the musicians, but the staff and other visitors that we would greet from all over the world. Many of the artists are second, third, or fourth generation New Orleans’ musicians so they display the history of the traditional genre on a nightly basis. Mark Braud (tp) has held the Sunday night slot since he was a teenager!

Our 6:15 AM flight on June 1st was delayed twice, then canceled, then rerouted for arrival in the evening, then canceled and rerouted again with the final leg arriving at 10:40 PM on June 2nd, the following day, missing the entire weekend. I was not able to get another flight out on any other carrier. I have been flying American Airlines for over 65 years and have never been delayed more than five hours. This was a delayed arrival of over 32 hours and was completely unexpected and devastating. Friends attending the final weekend kept sending me photos, videos, and audio, especially when Mark Braud (tp) did a shout-out for my favorite song of his—Sugar Blues—as he plays that like no one else does! It was indeed a magical weekend…I should have been there.

After 48-1/2 years, Shelly Gallichio is a retired Real Estate Associate Broker in Tucson, Arizona and despite growing up in Chicago, fell in love with the clarinet and the New Orleans sound at the age of three—she intends to spend the next 48-1/2 years seeking that sound! Reach her at [email protected]

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