[Dixielandjazz] Walter M. Booker Jr., Jazz Bassist
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 29 08:48:46 PST 2006
Mrs. Bertha Hope-Booker and Family Announce the Passing of Walter M. Booker,
Jr. There is a ³Celebration of Life² Memorial Service will be held for him
on Sunday January 14, 2007 7:30 P.M.
Saint Peters Lutheran Church 619 Lexington Avenue (On 54th Street)
New York, NY 10022 (212) 935-2200.
If any list mates are going to the IAJE conference in January, you might
want to stay in NYC an extra day at attend the service. It will surely be an
uplifting musical as well as soulful experience.
While primarily a modern jazz bassist, Bookie had some ties to the music we
love. Before he started to play bass, he served in the same Army unit with
Elvis Presley in the mid 1950s. He also became both Shirley Horn's and Sarah
Vaughn's bassist for a while and also played with Stan Getz. He was very
well known in the New York City Jazz scene after he moved there in 1964.
Following is his bio compiled by wife, Bertha, who as some may know , is an
excellent modern jazz pianist and the widow of Elmo Hope (who passed away in
1964). Her touring group, with 2nd husband Bookie on bass, was dedicated to
keeping the music of Elmo Hope alive.
Walter Booker was born in Prairie View, Texas in 1933 and moved with his
family to Washington, D.C. in the mid 1940s. It wasn¹t until 1959, at the
age of 26, that Bookie began playing the bass while in the army (serving
side-by-side in the same unit with Elvis Presley). Shortly after leaving the
service, he became a member of Andrew White¹s JFK Quintet, a group of young
D.C. musicians accomplished enough to attract the attention of Cannonball
Adderley, who produced a recording for them. Bookie¹s next gig was to tour
the United States with the Shirley Horn Trio, along with Billy Hart on
In 1964 Bookie moved to New York City. Almost immediately he was hired by
trumpeter Donald Byrd. From there he went on to join Stan Getz, and
throughout 1965 and ¹66, alternated between Getz¹s group and that of Sonny
Rollins. Between 1967 and ¹69 Bookie recorded and toured with Ray Bryant,
Art Farmer, Harold Vick, Betty Carter and, most notably, with Thelonious
Monk¹s last group.
In 1969 Bookie was invited to join the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, an
association which lasted until Cannonball¹s untimely death in 1975. Also
during that time he designed, built, and ran the Boogie Woogie Studio, a
mecca for musicians from all over the world.
>From 1975 to 1981 Bookie was Sarah Vaughan¹s bassist and continued to
produce recordings at his studio. He and the studio helped shape a number of
up-and-coming young groups, including Natural Essence. And he became deeply
involved with Brazilian music, ultimately forming Love Carnival and Dreams,
one of the more successful Brazilian jazz groups on the New York scene.
After leaving Sarah Vaughan, Bookie went to California with the John Hicks
Trio to record an album, a trip which resulted in a West Coast tour with the
trio accompanying saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders. The tour culminated in the
recording of an unforgettable live video/concert. Shortly thereafter, Nat
Adderley asked Bookie to join his new quintet. Bookie played with the
quintet until Nat¹s demise last year.
For the last five years Bookie, together with Jimmy Cobb, has been actively
touring as part of the Bertha Hope Trio. In addition to the Walter Booker
Quintet, Bookie has also formed Elmollenium, based on the same core group as
the Quintet (plus Bertha Hope) and dedicated to playing the music of Elmo
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