3 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
When I sat in at Baker's Keyboard Lounge, the oldest jazz club in America, a saxophonist visiting from California came up to me after the jam session. He said, "yeah man, you sound like you're digging Booker Little." I was just so baffled - I'm like, "who???" Sounded more like a scholastic lawyer rather than a jazz musician. And he just looked so star-struck thinking about the trumpeter: "oh man, he was amazing. There's this three disc set of him with Dolphy that will live forever. He died when he was 23."
I shrugged the suggestion off at first, considering how I hear many "you should check out's" a day. I kept hearing about him, most notably from Scott Yanow in his reviews. I would read about how Little is the oldest of the born-in-1938 "trumpet triumvirate," which also includes the stunning Freddie Hubbard and fiery eighth wonder of the world, Lee Morgan.
Finally, I gave this CD (which was the only one I could find) a shot, listened with open ears, and was blown out of my own dorm room.
Booker Little 4 with Max Roach, Booker's first album as a leader at the tender age of 20, boasts a trumpet titan with the height of unimagined pillars.
There's a reason he's a cult figure in jazz circles. If Little's notes had appearances, they would be mysterious runes that leap and bound magically as charms. He boasts an extremely strong range, machine-gun facility on his instrument, softhearted interpretation of the sweetest music, and an unflagging fountainhead of musical genius. He brings out the magic of the melodies he interprets, then quadruples their magnificence with his own brilliance. Simply (and sorry to say), he was a better trumpet player than Clifford Brown, and imagine what would have happened if he lived past his kidney failure demise at age 23.
The album starts out strongly, and instead of wearing away by its own end, explodes at its conclusion in a jam session with another undiscovered trumpet player, the wizardly Louis Smith. Even if Louis Smith seems to be too fascinated by Little's playing to provide any of his own fireworks, he's still a great player who became more influenced by Lee Morgan as time continued to pass.
The personnel and compositions create a mirror of musical beauty: you look into it, and discover yourself in its essence. Listening to Little's gentle interpretation of "Sweet and Lovely" will water the most stonehearted of malicious people and invoke serious reflection. George Coleman is a tenor giant that you hear almost nothing about - and why? Whenever I mention his name to my tenor playing friend, he shakes his head and says, "oh my god, George Coleman." Tommy Flanagan is highly rated by most jazz aficionados, who praise his light, warm touch. Don't forget Max Roach, arguably jazz's greatest drummer.
*Secret fact* - Max is one of only two jazz musicians that have played with the seven trumpet giants of Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Fats Navarro, Booker Little, Woody Shaw, and Nicholas Payton. Who's the other? Art Blakey, of course.
Little contributes his best known composition, "Dungeon Waltz," which was interpreted by Payton in his "trumpet legacy" album.
Little met the same conundrum Morgan did in his earliest sessions - extreme eagerness leading to the desire to show off every idea in every second. While Lee had his whole life to mature and slow his approach down, alas, Little would only have a few more years - so maybe his ardent bursts of creativity (and perhaps superiority) mean that much more.
The problem with listening to this album is the dizziness that can occur from being on the other end of Little's shadows of sound. There are just too many notes and ideas, leading to a mechanical feeling and a bit of straying away from the emotion that music of this period tried to thrust back into jazz music. Perhaps this is why Morgan is so much more revered - because of the blend of technical facility that Little possessed and the kindly, considerate emotion he infused into his playing.
At the age of 20, Little was the same age I am now (which still makes me curse his precociousness). However, he had the same issue I still have now - a sort of crude tone that results from too much gunning and not enough slowing done at times. He lacks the warm melodicism of Brown, Morgan, and Hubbard. His musical inflection sounds like a combination of the rawness of Dizzy Reece and the cold phrasing of Donald Byrd, except of course, with five thousand times the musical fluidity of any other jazz musician to ever pick up the trumpet. The result is that Little is unmistakably "young" sounding on this album, though that does little to detract from his sharp and biting ability.
You all can thank the keen Max Roach, long live his soul, for discovering this trumpet player with the radiance of a twilight mere. Roach, of course, is most famous for his association with Clifford Brown, so it's only naturally fitting that he moved on from Brownie's demise (after a short stint of replacing him with Kenny Dorham) to perhaps an even more talented trumpet player, Mr. Little. Max was similar to Blakey and Billy Eckstine in his ability to incubate young stars on the brink of stardom.
Trumpet players will particularly find the first two improvisations on this album of interest. I worked through an already published transcription of "Milestones" (in 28 Modern Jazz Trumpet Solos), which was one of the most daunting tasks in my life. I also transcribed the double and quadruple timing bursts of Sweet and Lovely, rivaling Woody Shaw's outburst on Horace Silver's "African Queen" for the hardest solo I've ever transcribed. Trying to get into what was in Little's head is like encircling the top of jazz's highest mountain, and is an utmost satisfying feeling. His wide intervallic leaps are jaw-dropping.
As time progressed, Little revealed himself more and more to the world. Keep in mind that this is not the music that he wanted to play in his life. Most musicians needed to participate in mainstream "blowing sessions" to climb the ranks in the jazz world, but ultimately, it would be his experimental otherworldly playing with Eric Dolphy in the early 60's that would enkindle his drive the most.
The album's most exceptional track is Sweet and Lovely. Absolutely profound, Little blows blue ambience right into the welcoming sky, shining notes like jewels, glinting stars defying the fading sunlight of the evening. It's sweet and lovely enough to soften steel.
Little left his shadow, a little (forgive me) but a fair and radiant one. This album, his launching pad to the temporary crown of trumpet playing, will keep trumpet players (and hell, most musicians) awake at night, wondering how in the world someone so wonderful could say farewell so early.