Booker Little

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Booker Little
Birth name Booker Little, Jr.
Born (1938-04-02)April 2, 1938
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died October 5, 1961(1961-10-05) (aged 23)
New York City, New York, United States
Genres Jazz, hard bop, avant-garde jazz
Occupations Trumpeter, composer
Instruments Trumpet
Years active 1956-1961
Associated acts Max Roach, Eric Dolphy, Johnny Griffin, George Coleman, Tommy Flanagan, Art Davis, Julian Priester, Frank Strozier, Ray Draper, Bob Cranshaw, Abbey Lincoln

Booker Little, Jr. (April 2, 1938 – October 5, 1961)[1] was an American jazz trumpeter and composer.


Little was born in Memphis, Tennessee.[1] He was the fourth child of Booker, a Pullman porter (who was also a trombonist) and his wife, Ophelia (who played piano).[2][3] Little graduated from Manassas High School.[4] He studied at the Chicago Conservatory from 1956 to 1958 and it was during this time that he worked with leading local musicians such as Johnny Griffin. Later, after moving to New York, he became associated with drummer Max Roach and multi-instrumentalist virtuoso Eric Dolphy, recording with them both as a sideman and a leader. With Dolphy, he co-led a residency at the Five Spot club in New York in June 1961, from which three classic albums were eventually issued by Prestige Records. It was during this stint that he began to show promise of expanding the expressive range of the "vernacular" bebop idiom started by Clifford Brown in the mid-1950s. He also appeared on Dolphy's album Far Cry (New Jazz 8270), recorded December 21, 1960.

Little died of complications resulting from uremia on October 5, 1961, in New York City, New York.[1][5] He was survived by his wife, two sons (Booker T. III, and Larry Cornelius), and a daughter (Larue Cornelia).[4]

Style and influence[edit]

Despite his premature death from kidney failure at the age of 23, Little made an important contribution to jazz. Stylistically, his sound is rooted in the playing of Clifford Brown.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Max Roach

With Eric Dolphy

With John Coltrane

With Slide Hampton

  • Slide! (Strand, 1959)

With Bill Henderson

  • Bill Henderson Sings (Vee Jay, 1959)

With Abbey Lincoln

With Frank Strozier


  1. ^ a b c - accessed June 2010
  2. ^ "Sixteenth Census of the United States (1940) [database on-line], Memphis City, 8th Ward, Shelby County, Tennessee, Enumeration District: 98-35, Page: 3A, Lines: 17-22, household of Booker Little". United States: The Generations Network. 1940-04-04. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  3. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Booker Little, Young Trumpet Soloist Buried" (October 21, 1961) Tri - State Defender. p. 3.
  5. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 99. CN 5585.