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Booker Little

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Booker Little
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette (February 11, 1994)
  • Label: Bainbridge
  • ASIN: B000001P5Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Now, here is a man who will knock you off of whatever you are sitting with his playing. Listen to this album without preparation and, I am warning you, you will be astounded beyond belief. Listen to Booker's incredibly wide range, impeccable attack on notes, melancholy sound, and remarkable endurance (with relentless 3 or 4 minute solos). Check out the rhythm section - did these guys ever play beforehand or ever again? Tommy Flanagan or Wynton Kelly, Scott LaFaro, and Roy Haynes pool their experience into a rhythm section of firepower and graceful groove.

Booker Little's eponymous album introduced a powerful new voice in the jazz trumpet: a musician who actually preferred composition and arranging to playing, yet was equipped with arguably the best technique and ability of any jazz trumpeter. It is also extremely valuable when considering Little's ridiculously under-recorded career, as it is one of his only four albums. The music is powerfully swift ("Opening Statement"), introspectively spiritual ("Minor Sweet"), unapologetically groovy ("Bee's Minor Plea"), heart-rending ("Life's A Little Blue"), anguished and bittersweet ("Grand Valse"), and sorrowful ("Who Can I Turn To").

Little's trumpet playing elevates him (and the listener) as if he were among the elms of a hill's summit. His tone, while leaning towards the flat side, has a beautifully executed vibrato, his harmonic knowledge allows him to hit striking notes (tritone subs, flatted fifths), his improvisations are stunningly melodic and linear, and, most importantly, he dedicates every single note to the significance of his music and the life that it portrays. LaFaro sounds as one who is dreaming alone, playing spiraling, rhythmically complex bass-lines without compromising tonal centers.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is Booker Little's 2nd album as a leader, recorded in April 1960 at age 22, about 1 ½ years before his death. It features the great bassist Scott LaFaro, who would also die the following year, a few days after his classic recordings with Bill Evans at the Village Vanguard. Rounding out the quartet are pianists Tommy Flannagan (on 4 of the 6 songs) and Wynton Kelly (on the other 2 songs), and drummer Roy Haynes. Based on this lineup you might expect a classic, and it is. Little composed 5 of the 6 songs.

This recording sounds different than most other jazz albums in that all (or nearly all) the trumpet and piano comes out of one speaker/side and all the bass comes out of the other side. (The drum sound is split, but mostly with the bass.) This can be almost shocking initially, but sounds fine once your ears adjust. I believe the intent was to provide better separation of the instruments and a more natural effect, and it mostly succeeds. The clarity of the audio is also very good.

Little's tragic fate left us with only a handful of recordings. Three of the finest, OUT FRONT, BOOKER LITTLE AND FRIEND, and this one are all equally great. I'd rather you heard them yourself than try to describe them musically. However, words like harmonically advanced, lyrical, melancholic, and beautiful have all been used to describe this music. Of course this one (BOOKER LITTLE) features trumpet and bass, while the others feature trumpet with reeds and trombone. When I listen to these albums (and each is unique), I get a sense that I'm hearing something substantial, and am often deeply moved.
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Format: Audio CD
I picked up this CD in a bargain bin a few years ago and was surprised to find the late bassist Scott LaFaro playing with another musician, trumpeter Booker Little, who would also pass away in 1961. Both were extremely talented and innovative musicians and they are ably supported by Roy Haynes, on drums; Tommy Flanagan & Wynton Kelly dividing the pianistic duties on certain tracks. The tunes are all practically Little originals and even though the Amazon price is rather high for a CD which is short on playing time--it's worth it to hear these 2 great musicians play together for the last time!!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have a concern to mention in regard to this CD, released by a company called DashGo. Also on the CD cover are the terms "Stereo Time" with a number (likely the date of dubbing), 5/2011. Inside the cover are the titles of the six tunes recorded along with their timings. Oh, and Booker Little's name, twice. And that's it. No notice appears in regard to the composer, and not all of the works presented are composed by Little. No notice of the performers appears. The CD has no CD number, though the case and the CD do have bar codes.

My strong hunch is that this release is not compliant with copyright law—it seems clear that no royalties have been paid. As a matter of principle, I feel I should destroy the copy I purchased. Buyer, beware!

On the other hand: The music is pure and beautiful, the album is a classic. The six tracks are (1) "Opening Statement," (2) "Minor Sweet," (3) "Bee Tee's Minor Plea," (4) "Life's A Little Blue," (5) "The Grand Valse," and (6) "Who Can I Turn To." Little records here with a quartet. Tommy Flanagan plays piano on tracks 1-2 and 5-6, Wynton Kelly plays on 3-4; Scott LaFaro on bass; Roy Haynes on drums. You couldn't field a more musical rhythm section in 1960. (The recording dates are April 13th and 15th, 1960.)

For those who don't know, Booker Little died at age 23. In his brief life he released four albums under his own name. Here you have one of them. Like Clifford Brown, who similarly died early and tragically, Little's playing set a new standard for the post-Gillespie, post-Davis trumpet. Little's tone is gorgeous, fat, orchestral. His solos follow three paths: lyrical sections, sections that focus on motivic development, and bravura-like virtuoso moments filled with chromaticism.
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