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James Carroll Booker the Third: The Life, Music, and Mystique of the Bayou Maharajah Part 1

From: David Kunian
Length: 56:29

Part 1 of 2 part radio documentary about the legendary New Orleans pianist James Booker

Default-piece-image-0 Program features Booker's music and interviews with New Orleans luminaries such as Dave Bartholomew, Earl King, Aaron Neville, Art Neville, Charles Neville, Allen Toussaint, Deacon John, Ed Frank, Jim Scheurich, Reggie Scanlan, Scott Billington, Bunny Matthews, John Parsons, and Booker's niece Sheila Twigs. Music includes Booker originals such as One Helluva Nerve, Papa Was a Rascal, his first single Hambone (recorded when he was 14), and Gonzo, the organ tune that was his highest charting single. The documentary also contains Booker's versions of Sunny Side of the Street, Chopin's MInute Waltz, Ernesto Lecuona's Malaguena, Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene, and his signature piece Junco Partner, all done in his inimitable style. In addition, there is an analysis of his style from Hal Leonard author and Booker expert Joshua Paxton. James Carroll Booker III was one of a kind. As a pianist he was in a class by himself. His technique, rhythmic drive, and sense of melody were extraordinary. His music and playing were a mixture of Rachmaninoff, T-Bone Walker, and Fats Domino. Also, his personality was unique. Tales abound of Booker's rambling monologues, tenderness toward his friends, and his skill at the piano. Beset by drug and alcohol problems, his eccentricity was legendary. He talked to himself at the piano, disappeared for days, and turned recording sessions into shambles. The documentary charts Booker's life from his days as a child prodigy and days as a session pianist through his tours with Shirley and Lee, Lloyd Price, and Aretha Franklin, his Junco Partner and Classified recordings, and his gigs in New Orleans at the Toulouse Theatre and Maple Leaf Bar up to his untimely death in 1983. The program is an educational, historic document attesting to the unique skill, irrepressible beauty, and lasting durability of his music and his personality. It leaves no doubt that, in both personality and music, there has never been a person on the planet quite like James Booker.

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Piece Description

Program features Booker's music and interviews with New Orleans luminaries such as Dave Bartholomew, Earl King, Aaron Neville, Art Neville, Charles Neville, Allen Toussaint, Deacon John, Ed Frank, Jim Scheurich, Reggie Scanlan, Scott Billington, Bunny Matthews, John Parsons, and Booker's niece Sheila Twigs. Music includes Booker originals such as One Helluva Nerve, Papa Was a Rascal, his first single Hambone (recorded when he was 14), and Gonzo, the organ tune that was his highest charting single. The documentary also contains Booker's versions of Sunny Side of the Street, Chopin's MInute Waltz, Ernesto Lecuona's Malaguena, Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene, and his signature piece Junco Partner, all done in his inimitable style. In addition, there is an analysis of his style from Hal Leonard author and Booker expert Joshua Paxton. James Carroll Booker III was one of a kind. As a pianist he was in a class by himself. His technique, rhythmic drive, and sense of melody were extraordinary. His music and playing were a mixture of Rachmaninoff, T-Bone Walker, and Fats Domino. Also, his personality was unique. Tales abound of Booker's rambling monologues, tenderness toward his friends, and his skill at the piano. Beset by drug and alcohol problems, his eccentricity was legendary. He talked to himself at the piano, disappeared for days, and turned recording sessions into shambles. The documentary charts Booker's life from his days as a child prodigy and days as a session pianist through his tours with Shirley and Lee, Lloyd Price, and Aretha Franklin, his Junco Partner and Classified recordings, and his gigs in New Orleans at the Toulouse Theatre and Maple Leaf Bar up to his untimely death in 1983. The program is an educational, historic document attesting to the unique skill, irrepressible beauty, and lasting durability of his music and his personality. It leaves no doubt that, in both personality and music, there has never been a person on the planet quite like James Booker.

2 Comments Atom Feed

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Love it.

Saw him many times in New Orleans. This docu is something I've been searching for for a long time. Is a video documentary in the works?

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Booker Review

Thanks for creating this. Where else can I find historical info/recordings or video on Booker, besides what's already posted on youtube?
Greg

Broadcast History

Broadcast on WWOZ in 1996 and on assorted station around the country in 1997