Booker Little Discography

Booker Little was born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 2, 1938. His sister Vera was an opera diva. Booker played with many of the great Memphis musicians, including Phineas Newborn and George Coleman. Dee Dee Bridgewater reports that her father, Matthew Garrett, taught many of these Memphis musicians at Manassas High School. Little attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music in the mid 50s. For part of his time there he roomed at the YMCA with Sonny Rollins. Sonny introduced him to Max Roach in June of 1958. Clifford Brown had of course died, and Max hired Booker, perhaps partly because of the similarities between these two master trumpet players. The collaborations between Booker and Max are, to my mind, as important as the Brown-Roach work. The music they made ranges from hard-bop to avant-garde to the political lyricism of Percussion Bitter Sweet.

Booker was apparently one of the world's beautiful people. Musically, he was of the school that practiced non-stop. Art Farmer recalled staying at a hotel where Booker was staying, and noted that Booker's technical skill was easy to explain by hearing him playing at all hours. Whether these habits started at a young age and to what extent Sonny's influence was important will have to wait for the needed research into Booker's biography.

Doug Wamble, a guitarist from Memphis, related the following:

"I got to know a few older locals who were always quick to offer stories about the old days. One guy no one talks about is Calvin Newborn, Phineas' brother, who is a guitarist. Calvin is one of the greatest guitarists I've ever heard. But unfortunately he is the most inconsistent. Anyway, he asked me if I liked Booker Little, and at the time I hadn't heard of him. He gave me a disgusted look and walked away. About a week later, I saw Calvin in a music store and he said he had been looking for me. He then took me out to lunch where he told me all about Booker. He said he was a practice fanatic. He used to hear Phineas play on gigs and he would have his horn with him and go shed what he had just heard in the men's room! Calvin also said that Booker was one of those guys you could easily pour your heart out to and he could give you the most uplifting insights and be of great encouragement. There was some trumpet player around town back then who thought he could cut Booker and he was always bad mouthing him to everyone saying how stuck up he was. Well, Booker came to this guy's gig and spoke with him on the break. He told this guy that he really enjoyed his playing, in spite of the fact that he had heard how this guy disliked him. Booker then apologized for whatever he had done to the fellow and asked him if they could get together and practice sometime. Calvin said that was just how Booker was...full of love for everyone. I wish there were more guys like Booker around today, what with all the Wynton bashers and the negativity between musicians. Oh well, one can only hope things change and people learn to embrace our differences rather than use them as means for animosity."
Booker got to know Eric Dolphy (click here to see a Dolphy discography) when Eric moved to New York in 1959. The two of them had similar personalities and their collaborations are probably the best-known of Booker's work. Booker was a rare match to Eric's virtuosity, as is perhaps best exemplified on Like Someone in Love from the Five Spot sessions. These live recordings provide an opportunity to hear Booker playing with relatively few restrictions. His solo on his composition Aggression is phenomenal. The majority of his solos have an edge of pathos, reminiscent of Beethoven's Opus 131 quartet. He weeps emotionally without playing sentimentally, and without relying on standard musical devices. His comments about using dissonance are well known:
"I think the emotional aspect of music is the most important.... Those who have no idea how classical music is constructed are definitely at a loss - it's a definite foundation.... I can't think in terms of wrong notes - in fact, I don't hear any notes as being wrong. It's a matter of knowing how to integrate the notes and, if you must, resolve them.... I'm interested in putting sounds against sounds and I'm interested in freedom also. But I have a respect for form.... In my own work I'm particularly interested in the possibilities of dissonance. If it's a consonant sound, it's going to sound smaller. The more dissonance, the bigger the sound. It sounds like more horns; in fact, you can't always tell how many there are. And your shadings can be more varied. Dissonance is a tool to achieve these things."
[This quote was taken from the liner notes to Prestige 7611, originally from an interview for Metronome by Robert Levin which is quoted even more extensively on Prestige 7826. I'll add this at the end.]

Booker was also an inventive composer. His quartet recording from April of 1960 shows some of his thought processes, as do his tunes from the Five Spot sessions, especially Bee Vamp. The quartet record additionally lets us hear him without distractions from other frontmen. Max continues to play Booker's beautiful Cliff Walk to this day. The only Little composition that I know of that wasn't recorded by Little himself is Sweet Silver, which appears on the MJT+#'s "Make Everybody Happy", Vee Jay 3008. It's a blues inspired by Horace Silver.

In conversations with bassist Anthony Cox and trumpet player Dave Douglas, the importance of composition in Booker's legacy has been emphasized. Douglas talks about the two sextet records as being key, and he makes some powerful statements about them on his 1995 CD In Our Lifetime. I digitized samples from Douglas' music that can be studied next to Little's original performances. Click here to see this page.

Booker suffered from uremia, apparently as a consequence of Lupus, and died of kidney failure on October 5, 1961, at the age of 23. Presumably his kidney disease was treatable, but his status as a black artist perhaps made medical care impossible. Instead he suffered terribly, yet continued to make great music through the pain. I hope to pursue his biography and would appreciate further leads.

The TCB records are somewhat rare but very worthwhile. The Teddy Charles/Booker Ervin session is lush and lovely, with a lot of latin percussion and feel. My wish is that by putting this together other people will have a chance to check out this heavenly music, and that I will find out about things I haven't heard. Please let me know what you know at

Here is a BBC radio show produced by Jez Nelson that features Reggie Workman, Don Friedman, and Nat Hentoff talking about Booker:

Alan Saul
2638 Raymond Ave
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Thanks to Billy Fox, Jonathan Kutler, Gene Janas, Alon Wasserman, Steve Guattery, Lynn Rardin, Dana Hall, Steve Estes, Peter Roberts, Steve Berman, Vladimir Simosko, Sandeep Mehta, Ignatios Alexander, Al Biles, Paul Berliner, Art Farmer, Art Davis, Anthony Cox, Dave Douglas, Graham Connah, Ana Dorsey, Bette Ann Richards, Terry Cannon, Dave Kaufman, and Charles Lloyd for information. Simosko's Eric Dolphy: a musical biography and discography, Vladimir Simosko and Barry Tepperman, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1974 (now published by DaCapo Press) was a key source for some of the discographical information presented here. He also provided data from the Jepsen discography. Paul F. Berliner's book Thinking in Jazz: the infinite art of improvisation, University of Chicago Press, 1994, is a wonderful piece of work that deserves careful study. He discusses Booker Little extensively, including numerous transcriptions. He also lists Dietrich Kraner's 1979 Little discography in his bibliography, and he sent me a copy. Beppe Sbrocchi and Cinzia Giannini have sent me their thesis on Booker, and I hope to make their work available soon, once I massage the translation from the original Italian, for wider access.Thanks in advance to anybody who corresponds with me about this.

Max Roach Quintet

Chicago, 3 June 1958

Max Roach (dr); Eddie Baker (p); Bob Cranshaw (b); George Coleman (ts); Booker Little (tpt).

Shirley, My Old Flame, Sporty, Stella by Starlight, Memo to Maurice

Originally Phonogram (EmArcy) MG 36132, "On the Chicago Scene", I have it as Trip TLP-5594. Also on Mercury SR 60128? Supposedly Booker's first recording. Also has Stompin' at the Savoy without Booker. These are included on the Mosaic set of the Roach Mercury recordings, with different mono and stereo takes of Shirley, Memo to Maurice, and My Old Flame. Thanks to Sean Wilkie for this info and the date, and to Matsubayashi 'Shaolin' Kohji for release notes.

Max Roach Quintet

Newport R.I., July 7, 1958

Max Roach (dr); Ray Draper (tuba); Art Davis (b); George Coleman (ts); Booker Little (tpt).

Love For Sale, Villa, Night in Tunisia, Deeds Not Words, Minor Mode, Tune Up

EmArcy MG 36140, according to the booklet from the Max Roach album "Jazz in 3/4 Time" issued by EmArcy in Japan, in which there is a discography of Max Roach on EmArcy/Mercury 9/56-10/60, written by Kiyoshi Koyama. Thanks to Alon Wasserman for this information. Simosko (really Jepsen) says that Deeds and Minor Mode were not originally on MG 36140. Simosko also provided the date based on Goldblatt's book on the Newport Festival (note that Chico Hamilton's quintet with Eric Dolphy also appeared that evening, with Dinah Washington in between). Also on Mercury SR 80010, MG 20524, SR 60201, MMB 12005, 180010, SFX-10581. Sean Wilkie reports that these are included on the Mosaic box, with the date given as July 6, and Love For Sale listed as from an unknown studio recording from "the summer of 1958."

Max Roach

NYC, September 4, 1958

Max Roach (dr); Booker Little (tpt); George Coleman (ts); Ray Draper (tuba); Art Davis (b).

You Stepped Out of a Dream, Filide, It's You or No One, Jodie's Cha-Cha, Deeds Not Words, Larry-Larue

"Deeds Not Words", Riverside RS-3018 (originally RLP12-280 and Jazzland JLP79 according to Jepsen, along with Riverside 45-417, RLP 1122, 673 004, SMJ-6194, Milestone M 47016, and Jazzland JLP 979 S according to Kraner). Tremendous music. There is another track, Conversation, which is an unaccompanied drum solo. Jodie's Cha-Cha and Deeds, Not Words are by Bill Lee (Spike is his son), Filide is by Draper, and Larry-Larue is by Booker. The CD reissue (OJC CD 304-2) contains an extra track, a rendition of 'There Will Never Be Another You' performed as a duet between Roach and Oscar Pettiford, recorded February 27, 1958 during one of the sessions of Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite". Thanks to Steve Berman for this information.

Booker Little 4 & Max Roach

Nola Studios, NYC, October 1958

Booker Little (tpt); George Coleman (ts); Tommy Flanagan (p); Art Davis (b); Max Roach (dr).

Milestones, Sweet and Lovely, Rounder's Mood, Dungeon Waltz, Jewel's Tempo, Moonlight Becomes You

"The Defiant Ones". With below, on Blue Note CDP 7 84457 2. Originally United Artists UA4034/(S)5034, according to Jepsen, as well as 68.009, LAX-3123, SR-3038, and Blue Note BNP 25.107 according to Kraner.

Max Roach - Bud Shank sessions live

Hollywood, California, October 6, 1958

Booker Little (tpt); Ray Draper (tuba); George Coleman (ts); Art Davis (b); Max Roach (dr).

Minor Mode Blues, The Scene is Clean, Love for Sale

KABC-TV "Stars of Jazz" broadcast, Calliope CAL 3013, according to Kraner. Thanks to Gene Janas for this. A video of this also includes some brief blues intro and outro. The shots of Booker are limited.

Max Roach Quintet

Unknown place and date

Booker Little (tpt); Ray Draper (tuba); George Coleman (ts); Art Davis (b); Max Roach (dr).

Deeds Not Words, Minor Mode Blues, unknown blues

TV broadcast, the first of a series of episodes of "Look Up and Live", this episode is called The Delinquent, the Hipster, and the Square. This CBS show features a minister talking about contemporary youth and their problems, and was produced by the National Council of Churches. The quintet is featured both in the background and the foreground, with some excellent shots of Booker playing. The storyline is hokey but somewhat amusing. Thanks to Graham Connah!

Here are some excerpts, as mp4s:

Opening of Minor Mode

Booker's solo

Hipsters talking



Max Roach Quintet

New York City, November 25 1958

Max Roach (dr); Booker Little (tpt); Arthur Davis (b); George Coleman (ts); Ray Draper (tuba).

Tuba de Nod, Milano, Variations on the Scene, Pies of Quincy, Old Folks (transcription and samples available), Sadiga, Gandolfo's Bounce

"Award-Winning Drummer", Time BCD1042 (originally Time 7003). Notes by Nat Hentoff mention that Max is 34 years old, and cover lists awards up to 1959. Not as wonderful as BCD1041, but wonderful none the less. Kraner also lists Realm RM 160, Time 2087, and Overseas ULS-1805V. Sean Wilkie notes that Ben Young states in passing in the notes to the Mosaic box that this session was in January 1959.

The Memphis Band (!)

Olmssted Studios, NYC, 1958 or early 1959

Booker Little, Louis Smith (tpt); Frank Strozier (as); George Coleman (ts); Phineas Newborn (p); Calvin Newborn (gtr); George Joyner, aka Jamil Nasser (b); Charles Crosby (dr).

Things Ain't What They Used To Be, Blue 'N Boogie

With above, on Blue Note CDP 7 84457 2. Liner notes by Jon Hendricks. Originally United Artists UA4029 according to Jepsen. Kraner labels this "Down Home Reunion (Young Men from Memphis)" and says it comes from early 1959. He says the masters were cut April 15, 1959, that this was also released on United Artists UAS 5029, UAL 4084, UAS 5084, and LAX-3130. There were two other cuts without Booker.

Max Roach Quintet

NYC, September 22, 1959

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (trombone); George Coleman (ts); Art Davis (b); Max Roach (dr, tympani).

Lepa, Connie's Bounce, Prelude, Bemsha Swing, Tympanalli, There's No You, A Little Sweet

EmArcy MG20911 according to the booklet in "Jazz in 3/4 Time" written by Kiyoshi Koyama. Thanks to Alon Wasserman for this information. Kraner lists this as from February 1959, titled "The Many Sides of Max", and gives other releases including Mercury SR 60911, 20029 MCL, 125938 MCL.The Mosaic box lists thie recording dates as 22 January 1959 and an early February session.

Bill Henderson

New York City, October 27, 1959

Bill Henderson (voc); Booker Little (tpt); Bernard McKinney (trb); Yusef Lateef (ts); Wynton Kelly (pno); Paul Chambers (b); Jimmy Cobb (dr).

Moanin', Bad Luck, The Song is You, This little girl of mine, You make me feel so young, Without You

"Bill Henderson Sings", Vee Jay VJLP 1015, Vee Jay 337, Top Rank TEP 151, Jazzbox JLEP 115, Overseas UXP-99JY. This info from Kraner's discography, with correction to the Vee Jay issue number from Lars Backstrom. Thanks again to Gene Janas. And to Lars Backstrom for his extremely kind gift of the original LP, which I now see also has additional tracks without Booker: Joey, Love Locked Out, Sweet Pumpkin, Free Spirits, Bye Bye Blackbird, and My Funny Valentine.

Slide Hampton Octet

Bell Sound Studios, New York City, late 1959, probably October

Slide Hampton (trombone); Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, Burt Collins (tpt); Bernard McKinney (baritone horn); George Coleman (ts, cl); Jay Cameron (bars, bcl); George Tucker (b); Pete La Roca, Kenny Dennis, Charlie Persip (dr).

Newport (transcription and sample available), Autumn Leaves, Althea, Jazz Corner, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, Go East Young Man, Patricia, Woody 'N' You

Strand SLS 1006, "Slide!", or "His Horn of Plenty". This information was ferreted out of Paul Berliner's book by Steve Guattery. I have the CD, "Slide!", Fresh Sound FSR-CD 206, which has this record along with another octet from 1961 without Booker (but with Hobart Dotson). It seems that Booker solos only on Newport.

Frank Strozier

Fine Recording Studios, NYC, 9 December 1959 and 3 February 1960

Frank Strozier (as); Booker Little (tpt); Wynton Kelly (p); Paul Chambers (b); Jimmy Cobb (dr).

W.K. Blues; A Starling's Theme; I Don't Know; Waltz of the Demons; Runnin'; Off Shore; Lucka Duce; Run; Tibbit; Just in Time; Off Shore (alt.)

Originally Vee-Jay 1007, "Fantastic Frank Stozier - plus"; 1993 CD reissue on Vee-Jay NVJ2-903. The last five tracks are listed as "previously unreleased" on the '93 reissue. This information was provided by Steve Guattery. Simosko notes that Jepsen dates the first 5 cuts as 2/2/60. So does Kraner, who lists other releases such as Vee Jay 362, VJLP 3005, Top Rank TEP 160, and Overseas UXP-86JY. I thank Steve Estes for dubbing this for me. Sean Wilkie reports that these are included on a Mosaic box (catalogue no. 205) of Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers' VeeJay sessions, with alternates of Lucka Duce, A Starling's Theme, Just in Time, I Don't Know, Runnin', and Waltz of the Demons, as well as Off Shore. The last 4 are from February.

Booker Little Quartet

New York City (?), April 13 and 15, 1960

Booker Little (tpt); Wynton Kelly (on Bee Tee's..., Minor Sweet, and Life's a Little... from April 13th) or Tommy Flanagan (p); Scott La Faro (b); Roy Haynes (dr).

Opening Statement, Minor Sweet, Bee Tee's Minor Plea, Life's a Little Blue, The Grand Valse (transcription and samples available), Who Can I Turn To (transcription and sample available)

Simply titled "Booker Little", Time BCD1041 is his masterpiece. Pure Booker, with a fairly sympathetic rhythm section. Enormous playing and mostly Booker's writing. Nice liner notes by Nat Hentoff. Originally Time 52011. Also Island ILPS 9454, Overseas UXP-65VT.

Teddy Charles New Directions Quartet, with guest stars Booker Little and Booker Ervin

Museum of Modern Art, NYC, August 25, 1960

Teddy Charles (vibes); Mal Waldron (p); Booker Little (tpt); Booker Ervin (ts); Addison Farmer (b); Eddie Shaughnessy (dr).

Scoochie, Stardust, Cycles, The Confined Few, Blues de Tambour

From Metronome Presents Jazz in the Garden, recorded by Warwick Records, W/WS 2033, rereleased by TCB as 1003, "Sounds of Inner City". Also on RJ-7178. The original Warwick release did not include Stardust, but has a track called Take Three Parts Jazz and an Embraceable You, both without either Booker. The TCB release also edits out Shaughnessy's solo on Blues de Tambour, and Kraner says Charles is also edited out in places. This music is gorgeous, the kind of thing my wife even likes.
Now out as "Booker Little & Teddy Charles Group - Live: The Complete Concert", Jazz View JV-032.

Sessions for Warwick

NYC, Summer 1960

Donald Byrd, Booker Little, Marcus Belgrave (tpt); Mal Waldron (p); Armando Peraza (conga); Addison Farmer (b); Eddie Shaughnessy (dr).

Chasing the Bird, Call to Arms, Wee Tina

Warwick W5003ST, TCB1004. See below for some of the confusing story.

Booker Little, Don Ellis (tpt); Curtis Fuller (tbn); Teddy Charles (vibes); Mal Waldron (p); Addison Farmer (b); Philly Joe Jones, Eddie Shaughnessy (dr); Willie Rodriguez (perc).

Construction Crew (actually no Booker on this?), November Afternoon, Witch Fire

Originally Warwick 5003, "The Soul of Jazz Percussion", a studio session by a merger of the groups on TCB 1002 and 1003, Byrd and Pepper Adams and Teddy Charles groups, plus Don Ellis and Marcus Belgrave. I have it on TCB 1004, "The Third World", which lists some of the personnel given above, but which is quite misleading. A new release of these is apparently on Fresh Sounds FSR640. Al Biles provided the Warwick info. He says it got 4.5 stars in Downbeat 8/31/61. Booker solos on Chasing the Bird, and appears a bit elsewhere, but it seems that TCB has put together various items (three tunes from another session without Booker, Ping Pong Beer, Prophecy, and Quiet Temple are included, see below for personnel) without providing information on what they did. Jepsen and Lord have some of the details, kindly provided to me by Vladimir Simosko and Mark Ladenson. I thought Booker solos on November Afternoon (after the vibes), and plays in the chorus on Call to Arms and Wee Tina. I would say that the solo on Wee Tina is Byrd, although playing a bit like Booker. Witch Fire is on TCB 1003.

Mark Ladenson says that Shaughnessy plays vibes on November Afternoon, rather than Charles. He says that Booker is not on November Afternoon.

The personnel on the 3 tracks without Booker is Byrd, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, and Earl Zinders (on tympani).

Max Roach

Nola Penthouse Studios, NY, August 31 and September 6, 1960

Max Roach (d), Abbey Lincoln (v), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Walter Benton (ts), Booker Little (t), Julian Priester (tb), James Schenck (b), Michael Olatunji, Ray Mantilla, Tomas Du Vall (perc)

Driva' Man (5'10), Freedom Day (6'02), All Africa (7'57), Tears For Johannesburg (Roach) (9'36)

This is "We Insist! Freedom Now Suite" by Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr., Candid CJM 8002 and CCD 9002 and Columbia JC36390, and Candid SMJ-6169, Amigo AMLP 810. Produced by Nat Hentoff. Thanks to Steve Berman for telling me this had Booker on it, which I hadn't realized. and thanks to Butch Perkins for stocking it. Hawkins is on Driva' Man only. Nice solo on Freedom Day. There is a big piece on this record called Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace (Roach) (7'58) which is a duet between Roach and Lincoln.

Candid All-Stars

Nola Penthouse Studio, NYC, November 1, 1960

Max Roach, Jo Jones (dr); Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Walter Benton (ts); John "Peck" Morrison (b).

Cliff Walk

On "Newport Rebels", Candid BR-5022, and 8022, 9022, SMJ-6187, CBS-Sony SOPC-57003. From the rump festival aftermath. A great tune and playing. I recently heard Max do this as an encore.

Eric Dolphy-Booker Little Quintet

Hackensack, NJ, December 21, 1960

Booker Little (tpt); Eric Dolphy (as,fl,bcl); Jaki Byard (pno); Ron Carter (bass); Roy Haynes (dr).

Ode to Charlie Parker, Bird's Mother, Serene, Miss Ann, Far Cry

Out in New Jersey Eric and Booker got together to record "Far Cry", Prestige PR7747 or New Jazz NJLP8270, and Prestige P 24046, 24053, SMJ-6569, Bellaphon BJS 40156, Esquire 32-193. Serene was left off these albums, but was finally released on "Dash One". Available now as OJC 400-2 (LP, CD). The CD has the missing Serene on it. Also a couple of these appear on MPP2517. Far Cry is Out There. Booker doesn't play on two tracks, Left Alone and It's Magic. Tenderly is an unaccompanied alto solo.

Pat Thomas

New York City, late 1960?

Pat Thomas (vcl); Booker Little (tpt); Curtis Fuller (tbn); Roland Alexander (ts); Teddy Charles (vib); Kenny Burrell (gtr); Tommy Flanagan (p); Reggie Workman (bass); Charles Persip (dr).

Sometimes I'm Happy

Strand SL 1015 Jazz Patterns

This doesn't sound like Booker to me, but many better ears say it is, and I can hear a bit of what they hear, so I'm adding it at last.

Abbey Lincoln

Nola Penthouse Sound Studio, NYC, February 22, 1961

Abbey Lincoln (vcl); Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Eric Dolphy (as,fl,picc,bcl); Coleman Hawkins, Walter Benton (ts); Mal Waldron (pno); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (dr); Roger Sanders, Robert Whitley (conga).

Straight Ahead, When Malindy Sings, In the Red, Blue Monk, Left Alone, African Lady, Retribution

Candid CJM8015/CJS9015, 79015 on CD, "Straight Ahead", and 45-602, Barnaby KZ 31037, CBS S 64655, CBS-Sony SOPC-57007, Candid SMJ-61290. Another take of African Lady appears on CCD 79033, but this may have been recorded on 11/1/60 with the same band (but I imagine it's actually from this session). On 79033 the date is listed as 2 Feb 1961! Kraner notes that Booker arranged Malindy and In the Red.

Booker Little Sextet

Nola Penthouse Sound Studios, New York, March 17, 1961

Booker Little (tpt); Eric Dolphy (as, bcl, fl); Julian Priester (tbn); Max Roach (dr, tympani, vibes); Art Davis (b); Don Friedman (p).

We Speak, Quiet Please, A New Day

With below, "Out Front", Candid CJM8027/CJS9027, CD 9027, New World NW 275 (a compilation called Introspection that has We Speak and the Strength and Sanity below), Barnaby BR 5019, CBS-Sony SOPC-57004, Candid SMJ-6170, Jazz Heritage 513146L "We Speak". Nat Hentoff produced this great session of Little compositions. Booker's playing is not as out front as elsewhere, and neither is Eric's. But the music is deep, and Max is powerful. A nice picture of Booker on the cover. An alternate take of Quiet, Please is also on CCD 79033, "Candid Dolphy".

Booker Little and his Sextet

Nola Penthouse Sound Studios, New York, 4/4/61

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Eric Dolphy (as,fl,bcl); Don Friedman (pno); Ron Carter (bass); Max Roach (dr,tympani).

Strength and Sanity, Moods in Free Time, Man of Words, Hazy Hues

Candid CJM8027/9027, "Out Front", with above. I had previously stated: "Also reissued on Candid 30009, with alternate take of Strength and Sanity." I don't know where I got that information, which doesn't seem to be correct as far as I can tell. Instead, I only see Reichardt's listing of this alternate on Candid (J) 32JDC-106, a CD titled Out Front + 1, with a timing given of 5:59. I now have this alternate thanks to Jonathan Kutler. CD reissue is Candid 79027. Moods in Free Time and an alternate take of Hazy Hues are also on CCD 79033. Other Japanese releases include 25BLL-3006 and TKCB-30462.


Strength and Sanity
Moods in Free Time

John Coltrane and his Orchestra

NYC, 5/23/61

John Coltrane (ss); Eric Dolphy (as,fl,arr,cond); Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard (tpt); Britt Woodman (tbn); Julian Priester, Charles Greenlea (euphonium); Julius Watkins, Donald Corrado, Bob Northern, Jim Buffington, Bob Swisshelm (french horn); Bill Barber (tuba); Garvin Bushell (reeds); Pat Patrick (bars); McCoy Tyner (pno); Reggie Workman, Paul Chambers (bass); Elvin Jones (drs).

Greensleeves, Song of the Underground Railroad, The Damned Don't Cry, Africa

Impulse A-6, "Africa/Brass". Another take of this appears on Impulse AS-9273, "The Africa Brass Sessions, Vol. 2". The Impulse CD reissue (MCAD-42001) has all the material on both Africa Brass albums. The alternate take of Greensleeves and Underground... are both listed as recorded on this date. The Damned Don't Cry and Africa are on Impulse IZ 9361/2.

John Coltrane and his Orchestra

NYC, 6/7/61

John Coltrane (ss); Eric Dolphy (as,fl,arr); Booker Little (tpt); Britt Woodman (tbn); Carl Bowman (euphonium); Julius Watkins, Donald Corrado, Bob Northern, Robert Swisshelm (french horn); Bill Barber (tuba); Pat Patrick (bars); McCoy Tyner (pno); Reggie Workman, Art Davis (bass); Elvin Jones (drs).

Africa, Blues Minor

Impulse A-6, "Africa/Brass", Impulse AS-9273, "The Africa Brass Sessions, Vol. 2", and MCAD-42001. There are two takes of Africa. Other releases listed by Kraner include His Master's Voice CLP 1548, CSD 1431, World Record Club ST 996, Columbia IC 052-90805, Philips P 63060 L, La Voce del Padrone QELP-8049, CSDQ-6264, EMI 064-90805, Impulse YS-8501, IMP-88090, BO 2.

Eric Dolphy-Booker Little Quintet

Five Spot, NYC, 7/16/61

Booker Little (tpt); Eric Dolphy (as,fl,bcl); Mal Waldron (pno); Richard Davis (bass); Ed Blackwell (dr).

Status Seeking, Aggression, Like Someone in Love, Fire Waltz, Bee Vamp, The Prophet, Number Eight, Booker's Waltz

Live recording of a nights performance, this may be the best use ever of this method of capturing music. Everybody should have these recordings. Some of the releases of these are: Prestige 7382, "Here and There", which only has Status Seeking and God Bless the Child, New Jazz NJLP8260 or Prestige 7611, Vol. 1, containing Fire Waltz, Bee Vamp, and The Prophet, Prestige PR7294 or 7826, Vol. 2, containing Aggression and Like Someone in Love, Prestige PR7334, "Eric Dolphy & Booker Little Memorial Album" or Vol 3, containing Number Eight (also called Potsa Lotsa on some labels) and Booker's Waltz, and Prestige P-34002, "The Great Concert of Eric Dolphy" containing Vols. I, II, and III. Now available: Vol 1: OJC 133 , Vol 2: OJC 247 , Memorial Album: OJC 353-2 (LP, CD). There is also another take of Bee Vamp on Dash-1. Kraner adds the following, mostly European and Japanese, releases: P 24070, SMJ-6572, Esquire 32-173, Pathé-Marconi 10135, NJLP 8288, SMJ-6573, Stateside SL 10160, Pathé-Marconi 230.802, La Voix de son Maitre HTX 40.343, SMJ-6574, SMJ-6578.

Aggression is Booker at his best. He plays these blasts near the beginning of his solo that knocked me out the first time I heard it, and still thrill me tremendously. Like Someone in Love is equally masterful, with lovely chamber trios at beginning and end. The Prophet has some of Eric's best alto playing. Bee Vamp is a fascinating composition of Booker's. Booker's Waltz is the same composition as The Grand Valse from BCD1041 and Waltz of the Demons from the Strozier date. It's all excellent and rewarding.

Max Roach and his Orchestra

Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, August 1, 1961

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Eric Dolphy (as); Clifford Jordan (ts); Mal Waldron (pno); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (dr); Carlos "Patato" Valdes (conga); Eugenio "Totico" Arango (cowbell), Abbey Lincoln (vcl).

Garvey's Ghost, Mendacity

Impulse AS-8, "Percussion Bitter Sweet". More below. Great stuff. One of my all-time favorite records, containing masterful playing by Booker, Eric, and Max, fascinating Roach compositions, messages, lots of solos by everybody, including Priester, Jordan, and Waldron. Part of Mendacity appears on another Impulse sampler I have, too, "The Saxophone", ASH-9253-3, in a sequence with Pres, Bird and Ornette. Garvey's Ghost similarly appears on ASD 9228-3.

Max Roach and his Orchestra

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, August 3, 1961

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Eric Dolphy (fl,bcl); Clifford Jordan (ts); Mal Waldron (pno); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (dr); Carlos "Patato" Valdes (conga).

Mama, Tender Warriors

Impulse AS-8, "Percussion Bitter Sweet", and ASY 9272-3.

Max Roach and his Orchestra

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, August 8, 1961

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Eric Dolphy (fl); Clifford Jordan (ts); Mal Waldron (pno); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (dr).

Praise for a Martyr

Impulse AS-8, "Percussion Bitter Sweet".

Max Roach and his Orchestra

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, August 9, 1961

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Eric Dolphy (as,fl); Clifford Jordan (ts); Mal Waldron (pno); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (dr); Carlos "Patato" Valdes (conga).

Man from South Africa

Impulse AS-8, "Percussion Bitter Sweet". Kraner lists other releases of these six tunes on His Master's Voice CLP 1522, CSD 1416, La Voce del Padrone QELP-8053, CSDQ-6266, Impulse YP-8546.

Booker Little Sextet

NYC, August or September 1961

Booker Little (tpt); Julian Priester (tbn); Don Friedman (pno); George Coleman (ts); Pete LaRoca (dr); Reggie Workman (bass).

Victory and Sorrow, Forward Flight, Looking Ahead, If I Should Lose You, Calling Softly, Booker's Blues, Matilde

Bethlehem BCP-6034, "Victory and Sorrow". Also called "Booker Little and Friend", Bethlehem COCY-75744 (formerly BR-5009). Originally Bethlehem BCP 6061, in Japan 22 AP 121, as well as MP-2183, PAP-23004, YP-7121, 30CY-1440, COCY-7283, COCY-9040, COCY-78642, COCY-80340. Now released as a Bethlehem CD, 20-40102, that retitles Looking Ahead as Molotone Music and includes two alternate takes of Looking Ahead/Molotone Music, although on the cover these are called Matilde. The first alternate (alt. take 4) has a flubbed ending. Looking Ahead is the same composition as Cliff Walk. Don't believe the cover when it claims Little composed If I Should Lose You either!


Victory and Sorrow
Forward Flight

Booker Speaks

From the Metronome interview by Robert Levin, conducted in the spring of 1961:

I think it's very good that Ornette Coleman and some other people have come on the scene. Ornette has his own ideas about what makes what and I don't think it's proper to put him down. I do think it's okay to talk about what his music has and what it doesn't have. I have more conventional ideas about what makes what than he does, but I think I understand clearly what he's doing, and it's good. It's an honest effort. It's like a guy who puts sponges on his feet, steps in paint and then smears it on the canvas. If he really feels it that way, that's it. At one end you have a guy who does it from a purely intellectual aspect and at the other a guy who does it from a purely emotional aspect. Sometimes both arrive at the same thing. I think Bird was more intellectual in his playing than Ornette is. I think Ornette puts down whatever he feels. But I think both ways have worth, though I don't believe Ornette himself has the worth of a Charlie Parker. Bird consummed everything, all that has been before and then advanced it all, and I don't think Ornette has consummed everything, though I'm sure he's heard it. I do think what Ornette's doing is part of what jazz will become.

My background has been conventional and maybe because of that I haven't become a leftist, though my ideas and tastes now might run left to a certain degree. I think the emotional aspect of music is the most important. A lot of guys, and I've been guilty of this too, put too much stress on the technical, and that's not hard to do when you've learned how to play in school. I think this goes along with why a lot of trumpet players have come up lately sounding one way - like Clifford Brown. They say everyone's imitating him now and that's true in a way and in a way it isn't. Clifford was a flashy trumpet player who articulated very well. He started a kind of trumpet playing that's partly an outgrowth of Fats Navarro - insofar as having a big sound, articulating well all over the instrument and having an even sound from top to bottom. Most of the younger guys, like myself, who started playing in school, they'd have the instructor driving at them, "Okay, you gotta have a big sound, you gotta have this and that." Consequently if they came in sounding like Miles, which is beautiful for jazz, they flunked the lessons. They turned toward someone else then, like Clifford. Donald Byrd is a schooled trumpet player and though he's away from that now he'll never really be able to throw it out of his mind.

Those who have no idea about how 'classical' music is constructed are definitely at a loss - it's a definite foundation. I don't think it should be carried to the point where you have to say this is this kind of phrase and this is that kind of development. Deep in your mind though, you should maintain these thoughts and not just throw a phrase in without it answering itself or leading to something else. Say I know the chord I want the piano player to play and I give it to him. But the other instruments won't necessarily be playing that chord. Most of the guys who are thinking completely conventionally - they'd say, "Well maybe you've got a wrong note in there." But I can't think in terms of wrong notes - in fact I don't hear any notes as being wrong. It's a matter of knowing how to integrate the notes and, if you must, how to resolve them. Because if you insist that this note or that note is wrong I think you're thinking completely conventionally - technically, and forgetting about emotion. And I don't think anyone would deny that more emotion can be reached and expressed outside of the conventional diatonic way of playing which consists of whole notes and half steps. There's more emotion that can be expressed by the notes that are played flat. Say it's a B flat, but you play it flat and it's not an A and it's not a B flat, it's between them and in places you can employ that and I think it has great values. Or say the clash of a B natural against a B flat.

I'm interested in putting sounds against sounds and I'm interested in freedom also. But I have respect for form. I think sections of a piece can sometimes be played, say on a basic undersound which doesn't limit the soloist. You wouldn't necessarily tell him how many choruses to take. You say 'You blow awhile. You try and build your story and resolve it.'

There are a lot of people who think the new direction should be to abolish form and others who feel that it should be to unite the 'classical' forms with jazz. The relationship between 'classical' and jazz is close, but I don't think you have to employ a 'classical' technique as such to get something that jells. I think the main reason a lot of people are going into it is because jazz hasn't developed as far as composition is concerned. It's usually a twelve bar written segment and then everybody goes for themselves. Personally, I don't think it's necessary to do either of these things to really accomplish something different and new. And I think sometimes a conscious effort to do something different and new isn't as good as a natural effort.

In my own work I'm particularly interested in the possibilities of dissonance. If it's a consonant sound it's going to sound smaller. The more dissonance, the bigger the sound. It sounds like more horns, in fact, you can't always tell how many more there are. And your shadings can be more varied. Dissonance is a tool to achieve these things.

Most people who don't listen often, say jazz is a continuous pounding and this is something I can feel too. I think there are so many emotions that can't be expressed with that going on. There are certain feelings that you might want to express that you could probably express better if you didn't have that beat. Up until now if you wanted to express a sad or moody feeling you would play the blues. But it can be done in other ways.

Date created: 1994
Last modified: 4 June 2018
Maintained by: Alan Saul

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