Booker Little

April 2, 1938 – October 5, 1961

Instrument trumpet
Birthplace Memphis, TN

We're sure that July 6, 1958, was an important day for Booker Little, who had just turned 20 three months previously. He was playing and recording live at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, marking the debut of Max Roach's new quintet without piano, and they were playing his Minor Mode arrangement, which was his first recorded composition.

A tragic loss to the world of jazz at age 23! Hearing is certainly believing: in Booker's short life, he still was able to leave us with recordings and compositions that are guaranteed to astonish and captivate. His effortless-sounding virtuosity ranks him as one of the greatest trumpet players. He was also a gifted composer, who obviously took composing very seriously, as his recording output shows. Booker began on trumpet when he was 12 and played with Johnny Griffin and the MJT + 3 while attending the Chicago Conservatory. He worked with Max Roach (1958-1959) and then freelanced in New York. He recorded with Roach and Abbey Lincoln, was on John Coltrane's Africa/Brass album, and was well-documented during a July 1961 gig at the Five Spot with Eric Dolphy. Booker Little led four sessions before his tragic early death. 

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