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Booker Little

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The first Booker Little I heard was his composition "Man of Words" a beautiful and haunting piece on this compilation (the other tracks are also well worth a listen by the way). I'm very grateful that I stumbled across this (inexplicably) not very well known trumpeter.

I then bought his self-titled quartet LP which I adore and if you haven't heard it you really ought to! To me the album has a melancholy yet hopeful mood (five out of six of the pieces on the album are originals and all of them are in minor keys). Wynton Kelly's is enlisted for the minor blues "Bee Tee's Minor Plea" and also "Life's A Little Blue" but Tommy Flanagan's unassuming, elegant playing on the rest of the album has really grown on me also. Scott LaFaro and Roy Haynes complete the rhythm section but unfortunately the recording doesn't do Roy Hayne's crisp touch justice and Scott LaFaro's bass sounds somewhat distant and boomy (his playing, typically free and melodic, is great though). The last track is a gorgeous rendition of a lesser known ballad "Who Can I Turn To?" by Alec Wilder and William Engvick.

I've heard a few tracks from his other albums as a sideman or leader and, although I think the quartet album will remain my favorite, he seems to have been experimenting with dissonance and close harmonies in his own compositions.

To me he had it all: brilliant range but with no sacrafice to his pure and sensitive tone, astonishing facility on the instrument but the emotional element was always there also, he (like Eric Dolphy) was stretching the vocabulary of bebop and played a lot of tensions and spiky lines which I think made him sound more modern than Freddie Hubbard or Lee Morgan, great compositions and arrangements which were also pushing the boundaries and he died at 23 years old! He was not a drug addict or alchoholic and by all accounts he was a beautiful and kind person but he suffered from uremia and died of kidney failure in 1961. Luckily for us he left a substantial recorded legacy but as with all great talents who died before their time we can only wonder at what musical directions he would have taken had he lived longer.

A really nice page on Booker Little with a discography and lots of other interesting information can be found here (by Alan Saul).

I'd love to hear any thought's anyone has on Booker Little and any recommendations on which albums of his to get (I already have Dolphy's "Far Cry" which I like very much but the quartet album still takes the top spot for me).

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Get The Fantastic Frank Strozier, with Booker, Wynton K, Paul Chambers & Jimmy Cobb.

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I would not want to be without "Booker Little and Friend" on Bethlehem (also reissued later as "VIctory and Sorrow").

41WEKK49BML.jpg

With Julian Priester on trombone, George Coleman on tenor, Don Friedman on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, and Pete LaRoca on drums.

Edited by jazzbo

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"Get The Fantastic Frank Strozier, with Booker, Wynton K, Paul Chambers & Jimmy Cobb."

!Definitely!

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Nice post, I enjoyed the Alan Saul page. I used to own the Jazz View cd with the tracks from MoMA. I found the sound on that quite a bit inferior to the TCB issue. While idly perusing Booker Little at Amazon I came across this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B001U8YYP8/sr=/qid=/ref=olp_tab_new?ie=UTF8&colid=&coliid=&condition=new&me=&qid=&seller=&sr=

Given the price I would think this is maybe a Scopio reissue? I had the good fortune to pick up an original pressing (stereo) on Time back in 1979. Like you, it remains my favorite work From Booker Little.

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Nice post, I enjoyed the Alan Saul page. I used to own the Jazz View cd with the tracks from MoMA. I found the sound on that quite a bit inferior to the TCB issue. While idly perusing Booker Little at Amazon I came across this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B001U8YYP8/sr=/qid=/ref=olp_tab_new?ie=UTF8&colid=&coliid=&condition=new&me=&qid=&seller=&sr=

Given the price I would think this is maybe a Scopio reissue? I had the good fortune to pick up an original pressing (stereo) on Time back in 1979. Like you, it remains my favorite work From Booker Little.

Is your LP mono? The stereo separation on the LP and CD reissues that I have is kind of extreme.

My favorites are the the sextet recordings on Bethlehem and Candid.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look out for cheap copies of "Booker Little and Friend", "Live at the Five Spot" or "Out Front" then.

I forgot that I actually do have the Fantastic Frank Strozier album (as "Waltz of the Demons"). I especially like Strozier's "A Starling Theme" as far as the compositions go. Booker Little get's a lot more out of Waltz of the Demons/The Grand Waltz on the Time quartet album than here though. Tommy Flanagan serves the mood of the song better, that and the tempo. Does anyone (with better ears than I) know if "Runnin'" is a "rhythm changes" tune?

I have heard "Blues de Tambour" (off the Teddy Charles MoMA session) as a bonus track on the Time quartet CD, and always thought it was pretty cool so maybe I should check the rest of the tracks out. In fact the only duff bonus track on the CD reissue I have is "Tune Up" where Ray Draper's tuba sounds ridiculous.

Tom in RI, do the bass and drums still sound a bit dodgy on you original LP?

Tom P, I'm listening to (your voice on) the podcast right now (shame the tracks are truncated)!

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Another one not mentioned that I like is The Booker Little 4 & Max Roach. This one has Tommy Flanagan and George Coleman.

I prefer this one to the Max Roach sessions without piano.

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Max Roach 'Deeds Not Words' on Riverside has some esssential Booker Little.

Picked up the 'Time' Quartet album when it came out on vinyl as 'The Legendary Quartet Album' on the Island label. Came out on this label at the same time that they were issuing Bob Marley and the Wailers !

Still a favourite album. I can hear a lot of Kenny Wheeler's style in this album and Kenny has acknowledged the influence I believe.

Booker+Little+-+The+Legendary+Quartet+Al

Edited by sidewinder

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In the early '80s I met a fellow at the Jazz Record Mart looking for Booker Little records. He said Booker was his father. Seemed like a humble guy.

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Booker can also be heard to fine effect on Max Roach's PERCUSSION BITTER SWEET, again in the company of Dolphy. Urgent, intense.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dPb5a1NjI8

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Booker Little as part of the Max Roach Quintet "Max Roach plus 4 at Newport" and "The Many Sides of Max" (both on Mercury) :tup:tup

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Can anyone tell me is "Status Seeking" is from the Five Spot records by Booker Little and Eric Dolphy? It absolutely is the same group, though in browsing around I don't see this tune listed as from those famous records. I discovered it on the Prestige sampler of Dolphy's work. The track runs 13:19, which sounds right for these performances. The first version appeared on Waldron's The Quest, with Dolphy but no Little.

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Can anyone tell me is "Status Seeking" is from the Five Spot records by Booker Little and Eric Dolphy? It absolutely is the same group, though in browsing around I don't see this tune listed as from those famous records. I discovered it on the Prestige sampler of Dolphy's work. The track runs 13:19, which sounds right for these performances. The first version appeared on Waldron's The Quest, with Dolphy but no Little.

It's on the Dolphy album " Here and There" but was recorded at the Five Spot on July 16, 1961.

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Just getting back to this thread, my copy of the Time lp is stereo. As to the sound of the drums and bass, I don't recall them sounding dodgy, I'll give it a spin tomorrow and report back.

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I like that one

29156167.jpg

reissued by Freshsound and also the Bethlehem one mentioned by jazzbo

41WEKK49BML.jpg

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The thing that I think about is that he died at age 23. Hard to imagine where his playing might have gone had he lived.

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On 4/5/2014 at 6:03 AM, paul secor said:

The thing that I think about is that he died at age 23. Hard to imagine where his playing might have gone had he lived.

I think about that, too. Twenty-three is shockingly young. Even given five more years, I think his playing — and composing — would have become more complex, more refined. Little's composing skills are especially under-remarked.

I listened to the Bethlehem record today. Still so fresh. What I noticed this time around was how essential Don Friedman's playing is to the record. And Pete LaRoca is in proto-free mode.

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