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Old Mar 31, 2012, 03:06 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is online now
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Jazz Feature for April 2:Booker Little:"The Legendary Quartet Album"

Tonight The Jazz Show begins the month of April with a series of Features that mark either the only recording or the debut recording by an artist. The first on the agenda is the late lamented and influential trumpeter Booker Little. Booker was born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 2, 1938 and today would be his Birthday. He died very young at age 23 from complications from uremia on October 5,1961 much to the utter shock of the Jazz Community. Booker was discovered by drummer Max Roach and brought to national prominence in Max's band through gigs and recordings. Max was proud of Booker who like the great Clifford Brown was a clean liver, educated in a music conservatory and above all dedicated and studious. His trumpet style was based on Clifford Brown's to be sure but there was a startling individuality in his concept and something very new and original in his playing. All of this was evidenced on a recording called the "Booker Little Plus Four & Max Roach" issued on United Artists. This is thought to be Booker's debut recording but tonight's Jazz Feature is his real debut. I'll explain: the Booker Little Plus Four date was really Max Roach's band with the addition (at Booker's request) of pianist Tommy Flanagan. Max gave Booker carte blanch as to the choice of tunes and it is a great date. Little is amazing here considering he was just 20! Booker's real debut is tonight's Jazz Feature as it is entirely directed by Booker and is his only quartet date. It was originally released on Time Records and called simply "Booker Little" and it was done in April 1960. The date includes six tunes. Five are Booker's compositions and one ballad, the beautiful standard, "Who Can I Turn To?" Pianist Wynton Kelly is on two tracks and Tommy Flanagan is on the remainder. The great late Scott LaFaro is on bass and he reminds us once again what a virtuoso he was and such a big sound! Much different than on his more famous outings with Bill Evans. The drummer is the ageless Mr. Snap-Crackle......Roy Haynes! Little had just passed his 22nd Birthday when this definitive date was done. Booker's burnished sound, his absolute control over all registers of the horn and his advanced harmonic concept makes this recording one of the essential dates in anyone's collection.

Although Booker Little played within the structures of Jazz (chord changes etc), he found new things to play and was part of the shift that was taking place in Jazz in the late fifties due to the emergence of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy and others. Little made some important sideman appearances with Roach's expanded ensemble and formed a band with such forward thinkers as Eric Dolphy, Mal Waldron, Richard Davis and Eddie Blackwell. This latter was well documented on a series of Prestige recordings done at the legendary Five Spot Cafe in New York. Little only made two more very significant recordings, one in particular for Candid called "Out Front" (a classic!) and one further called "Booker Little and Friend" with homeboy George Coleman (they were both from Memphis). Both reveal a concept and a maturity far beyond his 23 years. Little is ackowledged by most trumpet players as an important step in the evolution of the instrument but he is most often mentioned as an inspiration by more free thinkers like the late Lester Bowie and Wadada Leo Smith, who is atill active at 70. Younger forward thinkers like Dave Douglas and Taylor Ho Bynum have listed Booker Little as their main inspiration. Little's influence remains strong despite his small recorded output and his tragically short life. Happy Birthday Booker Little!

The Booker Little feature will air shortly after 11pm as usual but there is always much ground to cover and we have three hours to do this......come by at 9pm when the show begins.............see you then...............
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