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Jazz April birthday: Trumpeter Booker Little

Booker Little 1938-1961

Jazz April has begun! 

Many influential jazz musicians were born in this month, and we'll be celebrating both the legendary and the lesser-known by telling you a little more about their lives and music on their birthdays.

Booker Little was one of a handful of trumpeters born in 1938 (the list includes Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard) who were touched by Clifford Brown’s genius and ready to take be-bop to the next level.

Born in Memphis, he received his Bachelors of Music in trumpet from the Chicago Conservatory, studied theory, composition and orchestration, and roomed with saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins, who counseled and inspired him.

Booker’s work with drummer Max Roach and multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was outstanding and promising, but sadly cut short by his own untimely death from kidney failure when he was just 23 years old.

"My own feelings about the direction in which jazz should go are that there should be much less stress on technical exhibitionism and much more on emotional content, on what might be termed humanity in music and the freedom to say all that you want."--Booker Little

Here’s a sampling of Booker Little’s artistry and flawless technique with Max Roach in 1959.  The beat poetry reading at the end is just a bonus.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.
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