Booker Little Jr. (April 2, 1938 – October 5, 1961) was an American jazz trumpeter and composer. He appeared on recordings, both as a sideman and as a leader. Little notably performed with Max Roach, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy and was strongly influenced by Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown. He died at age 23.
Little was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the fourth child of Booker, a Pullman porter (who was also a trombonist) and his wife, Ophelia (who played piano). Little graduated from Manassas High School. He studied trumpet at the Chicago Conservatory with Joseph Summerhill from 1956 to 1958 and it was during this time that he worked with leading local musicians such as Johnny Griffin. Later, after moving to New York, while he lived with Sonny Rollins, Little became associated with drummer Max Roach and multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy, recording with them both as a sideman and a leader.
With Dolphy, he co-led a residency at the Five Spot club in New York in June 1961, from which three albums were eventually issued by the Prestige label. It was during this stint that he began to show promise of expanding the expressive range of the "vernacular" bebop idiom which originated with Clifford Brown, his most obvious influence as a performer. He also appeared on Dolphy's album Far Cry (New Jazz 8270), recorded on December 21, 1960.
Little died of complications resulting from uremia on October 5, 1961, in New York City. He was survived by his wife, two sons (Booker T. III, and Larry Cornelius), and two daughters (Larue Cornelia and Ana Dorsey).
- 1958: Booker Little 4 and Max Roach (United Artists)
- 1960: Booker Little (Time)
- 1961: Out Front (Candid Records) with Julian Priester, Eric Dolphy, Don Friedman, Ron Carter, Art Davis, Max Roach
- 1961: Booker Little and Friend (Bethlehem) This album was re-released under the name Victory and Sorrow
With Teddy Charles
With John Coltrane
With Eric Dolphy
With Slide Hampton
- Slide Hampton and His Horn of Plenty (Strand, 1959)
With Bill Henderson
- Bill Henderson Sings (Vee Jay, 1959)
With Abbey Lincoln
With Max Roach
- Max Roach + 4 on the Chicago Scene (EmArcy, 1958)
- Max Roach + 4 at Newport (Emarcy, 1958)
- Deeds, Not Words (Riverside, 1958)
- Award-Winning Drummer (Time, 1958)
- The Many Sides of Max (Mercury, 1959)
- We Insist! (Candid, 1960)
- Percussion Bitter Sweet (Impulse!, 1961)
- Alone Together: The Best of the Mercury Years (Verve); Booker Little performs on three tracks recorded in 1958 and 1959
With Frank Strozier