clinician and soloist
Time and time again, fate has placed Lance Buller right where he needed to be on the road to becoming the accomplished musician he is today. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, and spent the first seven years of his childhood there, until his parents left Canada during the 1960s, to move to Los Angeles, California. It was a great time to be a kid full of enthusiasm, growing up in a place where the world of exciting live music flourished all around him, and he felt inspired to take up the clarinet as a 12-year-old. A year later, however, he moved to the trumpet, which would remain his first love.
Buller likes to joke that his second love was a girl named Vikki, but that’s another story. Knowing where his heart truly belonged, he paid more attention to the trumpet than he did to Vikki, which is probably why he earned the title of “Most Outstanding Musician” at his high school. But that was only the beginning.
In college, Buller started playing with the top rock, jazz, and Latin groups in Los Angeles. He was Solo Chair with The Hollywood Bowl Productions Band, under the leadership of such notables as Gordon Jenkins Jr., Mercer Ellington, Dave Grusen, and Henry Mancini.
At the age of 20, he joined the American Federation of Musicians and almost immediately hit Las Vegas, to play music at the Dunes and Aladdin Casinos. He worked with Little Anthony and Bob Marley and was 24 years old when he began a long association with The Beach Boys. That memorable experience included recording five albums with them, as well as touring Europe, Australia, and the United States. Buller’s recording career—which began in 1974—has resulted in 24 albums so far, including five with his own band, The Monarchs.
From cruise ships to radio concerts, Buller has done just about everything a musician could hope to do, often being featured with showbiz greats. Throughout his career, he has made regular appearances at jazz festivals with The Monarchs and many other bands, and as a special guest star. He even helped run a jazz festival on Catalina Island for five or six years. He performs at restaurants, clubs, and private events, and also produces shows, such as the popular annual Jazz @TMP event at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Additionally, he has many students and works in local schools, to teach and mentor those eager teen musicians who remind him of himself at that age. It is an effort he considers his true calling.
Buller brings a love of people and a zest for life to everything he does. His favorite place to be is on a stage, performing. “There is nothing like being up there with a hot band behind you and a great crowd to entertain!” he says. “That’s why I’m here.”
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