Booker Little was a prolific trumpeter and composer by any standard, but considering his tragically brief life, his musical achievements are astonishing. A Memphis native, he trained at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he impressed Sonny Rollins. This association led to a number of successful recordings with Max Roach in the late 1950s. Little went on to perform on other classic albums, such as John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass and Eric Dolphy’s At the Five Spot.
His trumpet sound was characterized both by undeniable technical facility and a dark tone that reflects the bittersweet nature of his life. But it is as a composer that Little left his real mark. Despite fluency in the language of Be-Bop, his own albums display a progressive slant toward composition -- albums such as Out Front are distinguished by dense, dissonant harmonies; tempo and meter shifts; and extended forms that give equal attention to composed and improvised sections.