Walter Booker, 1933 - 2006

Veteran jazz bassist Walter Booker, best known for his long stints with Cannonball Adderly and Sarah Vaughan, passed away at his home in Manhattan on November 24th, after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 72. Born in Prairie View, Texas, in 1933, and raised in Washington, D.C., Booker didn’t began playing bass until he was 26, while in the army (serving in the same unit as Elvis Presley).
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A few years after leaving the service, “Bookie,” as he was affectionately known, moved to New York City, in 1964. Gigs and recordings with Donald Byrd, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, and Thelonius Monk’s last group followed. In 1969 he was invited to join the Cannonball Adderly Quintet, staying until the saxophone titan’s untimely passing in 1975. During that time, Booker also built and ran Boogie Woogie Studios, where he mentored young musicans from all over the world.

From 1975-1981 Booker toured and recorded with Sarah Vaughan. He followed that with roles in the bands of pianist John Hicks and trumpeter Nat Adderly, as well as releasing his debut CD, Bookie’s Cookbook [Mapleshade], in 2000. Over the last five years Booker had been actively touring with his wife, pianist Bertha Hope, in her trio (along with drummer Jimmy Cobb). A “Celebration of a Life” memorial service was held on January 14th at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan. —Chris Jisi