All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Charts of Elegance

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

5

The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker

Ava Louise By

Sign in to view read count
Beryl Booker was a highly respected and successful jazz musician, and she was outstanding in many progressive ways throughout her short career.

Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Beryl was a largely self-taught musician and vocalist. She created a distinctive style of swing piano which was very bold and confident. Listening to her performances, one can feel the sincerity and emotion driving each piece. She had a keen sense of timing and used the shortening and lengthening of notes to create a very successful swing style of her own.

Beryl broke down a very large barrier in being accepted as a jazz musician in the male-centric genre. Jazz has been notoriously male-dominated, with most exceptions to that rule being vocalists rather than instrumentalists. Beryl most notably played with the Slam Stewart Trio from 1946-1952. She also collaborated with Miles Davis and Don Byas, among many others. Some highlights from her collaborations include: "Oh Me, Oh My, Oh My Gosh," "Beryl Booker's Byased Blues," and Miles Davis with Beryl Booker—Birdland Live Recordings.

Not long after linking up with Slam Stewart, Beryl formed her own Beryl Booker Trio. The trio featured all female musicians: Beryl on Piano, Bonnie Wetzel on bass, and Elaine Leighton on drums. To this day, all female instrumental groups are rare and even more rare are those that are commercially successful. Beryl's trio was impeccable and was very well known by the late 1940's. Her trio was also racially diverse, featuring both African-American and Caucasian musicians. In the age of segregation this was unusual and certainly controversial, but her progressive efforts led to the creation of one of the best-known female musical groups of her time. Some highlights of her trio, including vocals and piano are: "Easy to Love," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "I Should Care," "What Have I to Live For." Some purely instrumental gems are: "Don't Blame Me" and "Low Ceiling."

Beryl suffered from bad health most of her life and this, along with other set backs, led to the premature end of her musical career. Although her career was short, she left a strong legacy of quality musicianship and forward thinking. During a shorter career than many musicians enjoy, Beryl became a self-taught pianist who broke into the male-centric genre of jazz, performed with all male groups, and also formed her own successful all female trio.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Simply Nina: A look back at the illustrious career of jazz legend Nina Simone Charts of Elegance
Simply Nina: A look back at the illustrious career of jazz...
by Ava Louise
Published: May 4, 2018
Read Melba and Her Horn - Accomplishments of the Great Melba Liston Charts of Elegance
Melba and Her Horn - Accomplishments of the Great Melba...
by Ava Louise
Published: April 10, 2018
Read The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker Charts of Elegance
The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker
by Ava Louise
Published: March 7, 2018
Read The Timeless Voice Of Billie Holiday Charts of Elegance
The Timeless Voice Of Billie Holiday
by Ava Louise
Published: February 6, 2018
Read "Melba and Her Horn - Accomplishments of the Great Melba Liston" Charts of Elegance Melba and Her Horn - Accomplishments of the Great Melba...
by Ava Louise
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "The Timeless Voice Of Billie Holiday" Charts of Elegance The Timeless Voice Of Billie Holiday
by Ava Louise
Published: February 6, 2018
Read "The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker" Charts of Elegance The Outstanding Contributions of Beryl Booker
by Ava Louise
Published: March 7, 2018
Read "Bokani Dyer: African Piano" Interviews Bokani Dyer: African Piano
by Seton Hawkins
Published: June 7, 2018
Read "Michael Feinstein: Errands and Rhythm Galore" Catching Up With Michael Feinstein: Errands and Rhythm Galore
by Rob Wood
Published: September 21, 2018
Read "Take Five with Tarek Yamani" Take Five With... Take Five with Tarek Yamani
by Tarek Yamani
Published: April 12, 2018
Read "Satoko Fujii: the Gift of Music" Interviews Satoko Fujii: the Gift of Music
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: March 7, 2018