Booker Little

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Booker Little
Birth nameBooker Little, Jr.
Born(1938-04-02)April 2, 1938
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedOctober 5, 1961(1961-10-05) (aged 23)
New York City, New York, U.S.
GenresJazz, hard bop, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s)Trumpeter, composer
Years active1956–1961
Associated actsMax 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. He appeared on recordings, both as side-man and as leader. Little was closely associated with Max Roach, but also performed with John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy and was strongly influenced by Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown. He died at age 23.[2]


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).[3][4] Little graduated from Manassas High School.[5] He studied trumpet at the Chicago Conservatory with Joseph Summerhill 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, while he lived with Sonny Rollins, Little became associated with drummer Max Roach and multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy, recording with them both as a sideman and a leader.[2]

With Dolphy, he co-led a residency at the Five Spot club in New York in June 1961, from which three albums were eventually issued by the Prestige label. It was during this stint that he began to show promise of expanding the expressive range of the "vernacular" bebop idiom which originated with Clifford Brown, his most obvious influence as a performer. He also appeared on Dolphy's album Far Cry (New Jazz 8270), recorded on December 21, 1960.

Little died of complications resulting from uremia on October 5, 1961, in New York City.[1][6] He was survived by his wife, two sons (Booker T. III, and Larry Cornelius), and two daughters (Larue Cornelia[5] and Ana Dorsey).


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With John Coltrane

With Eric Dolphy

With Slide Hampton

With Bill Henderson

  • Bill Henderson Sings (Vee Jay, 1959)

With Abbey Lincoln

With Max Roach

With Frank Strozier


  1. ^ a b c – accessed June 2010
  2. ^ a b Sullivan, Leo T. "Biography". Booker Little. Leo T. Sullivan Jazz Websites. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "Biography". Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Booker Little, Young Trumpet Soloist Buried" (October 21, 1961) Tri – State Defender. p. 3
  6. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 99. CN 5585.