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James Booker performing “True” at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1978. This is an excerpt from the documentary, “Bayou Maharajah.” (the life and blues of a virtuoso.) The above song, written by Louis Cottrell and Don Albert, was recorded by Paul Gayten in 1947. James takes creative liberties.. Here’s a BBC radio piece on this performance ( an interview with director Lily Keber): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0650…

all rights reserved to Bayou Maharajah, LLC
“Slowly But Surely” Lyrics and Music: James Booker
James Booker/Jerry Garcia – Palo Alto (1976)
Jerry Garcia — guitar, vocals
John Kahn — bass
James Booker — piano, vocals
Ron Tutt — drums
Played by James Booker, one of New Orleans’ true piano geniuses, with the Jerry Garcia Band in Jan 1976.
Jerry’ s guitar picking and James Booker’ s piano playing match. Booker released only five LPs. New Orleans’ piano genius who died Nov. 8, 1983, age.43, after taking a deadly dose of bad cocaine.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beardYou know the world keeps going on around and round
And slowly getting back together
I know it’s getting right back together right now
Sun’s got the world going round and round
As though they’re getting back together
I know it’s getting right back together right now
There is a great big plan
It’s greater than superman, as great a superman
Tell you no lie, [’cause here is superfly, ooperfly]
Keeps the world running round and around and round
Slowly getting back together
I know it’s getting right back together right now
Well dead and gone, I may be dead and gone
Just helping the ground rotting
Yeah but the truth will live on
It never be forgotten
Oh but the birds and the ants
I know the trees and plants
They’re gonna bring me all the news
It won’t be no use, it won’t be no use
Because the world still be going on around and round
And slowly getting back together
I know it know it’s going to get back together, slowly but surely
Right back together now

James Booker was an African-American musician known for his unique fusion of jazz

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and rhythm-and-blues, and for songs like “The Sunny Side of the Street,” “A Taste of Honey” and “Papa Was a Rascal.”

Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses and closeupBorn in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 17, 1939, James Booker was an African-American pianist who developed his own hybrid style of jazz, blues, ragtime and classical music. He worked with legends such as Fats Domino, B.B. King and Aretha Franklin, and is remembered for creatings songs like “The Sunny Side of the Street,” “A Taste of Honey” and “Papa Was a Rascal.” He died in New Orleans in 1983. Booker’s own recordings are rare, but his work has influenced a new generation of musicians.
James Booker was born James Carroll Booker III in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Image may contain: 1 person, textDecember 17, 1939. Booker’s family encouraged his early musical interests, and he began taking piano lessons at the age of 6. He studied classical piano, learning the works of Frédéric Chopin and Johann Sebastian Bach. As a pre-teen, he performed regularly on live broadcasts from a New Orleans radio station. He also studied the saxophone, but the piano remained his true passion
Booker attended the Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans. As a high school student, he was already playing in local recording sessions, contributing piano and organ tracks to albums by Fats Domino and other well-known musicians of the era. He released his own first single, “Doing the Hambone,” in 1954.
Career Highlights
Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage and beardhttps://youtu.be/LB7KnXCTm8g?list=RDFRnnmvgeM0QBooker’s single “Gonzo,” an organ instrumental, was a hit in 1960. He continued to play live with music legends like B.B. King, and to contribute to studio recordings by artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, The Doobie Brothers, Ringo Starr, blues master Freddie King and folk singer Maria Muldaur.

00:00:00 intro
00:01:24 Papa Was a Rascal
00:05:05 instrumental
00:09:04 Tico Tico
00:12:33 One For The Highway
00:15:37 One Helluva Nerve
00:19:28 Warsaw Concerto
00:21:58 Blues Minuet
00:23:53 variation of Cindy Walkers “You Don’t Know Me”, recorded first by Eddie Arnold and later by Ray Charles
00:24:46 Lawdy Miss Clawdy
00:28:02 Classified
00:30:25 announcer / station ID
00:30:53 Little Coquette / Yes Sir That’s My Baby (medley)
00:35:48 Loberta (on other recordings he used the ‘Loberta’ riff as an intro to ‘How Do You Feel’)
00:39:07 Ribbon In The Sky
00:41:54 Put Out The Light
00:44:52 Madame x
00:45:36 Bald Head
00:47:16 announcer / “Music City” show promo with The Neville Brothers
00:48:24 Gonzo’s Blue Dream
00:52:33 If you’re Lonely
00:56:00 credits
00:57:43 end

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In France…

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Lost Tapes…


He released five albums during his lifetime, all initially issued by European labels. Among these releases, Junco Partner (1976), New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live! (1977), and two 1976 recordings, Blues and Ragtime from New Orleans and Piano Prince from New Orleans, find him at his very best. A dozen or so albums of varying audio quality have appeared posthumously.

Around 1978 Booker stopped going on the road and began two gigs that became legendary for 

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their length, brilliance, and erratic nature. His Tuesday night shows at the Maple Leaf Bar in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans yielded two posthumous albums on Rounder Records, which are full of ranting, hellacious singing, and torrential playing despite the creaky upright piano. Booker also played regularly at the Toulouse Theater in the French Quarter as the intermission and after-show pianist for the One Mo’ Time show, the only locally produced New Orleans theater piece that went on tour to international acclaim. There are no official recordings of Booker from the Toulouse Theater, but do

zens of hours of bootleg tapes have surfaced.

Booker’s main influences included Ray Charles (particularly his highly emotive and bluesy vocals), Fats Domino, and—for personal flamboyance—Liberace. Unlike most pianists who came after Professor Longhair, Booker’s playing showed no Caribbean inflection. Instead he developed new variations on the basic boogie-woogie left-hand patterns, inventing at least a half-dozen such modes.


James Carroll Booker III was a distinctive New Orleans pianist who mixed gospel, boogie-woogie, blues, traditional and modern jazz, and classical music into a unique and breathtaking sound.

Booker’s personal problems with heroin, cocaine, and alcohol abuse hindered his professional and personal life, and led to his early death on November 8, 1983, in the emergency waiting room of New Orleans’s Charity Hospital

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Some of the above from:  http://www.bayoumaharajah.com/booker/


January 9-10, 1976: Sophie’s, Palo Alto, CA: The Jerry Garcia Band with James Booker


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Diligent scholars of Jerry Garcia know that Jerry Garcia, John Kahn and Ron Tutt played two shows at Sophie’s in Palo Alto with keyboardist James Booker on January 9 and 10, 1976. Tapes endure of both shows, along with rehearsal at Club Front two days earlier.


“The name James Booker means very little in most parts of the world. In New Orleans, and to a great number of musicians, mainly piano players, the name James Booker is holy. Not bad for someone who was once called “the best black, gay, junkie piano player who ever lived.”



Rickie Lee Jones said this:

Related image“Booker died then, much like he had lived, no one seemed to notice him, or maybe it was just that it would have been unbearable for him to have been noticed too much. I am glad to hear that people celebrate James Booker now. He would be really happy about that, in a quiet way, I think.”

A portrait of James Booker by artist Gabriel Flores of Where Y’Art, as commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for its “300 for 300” celebration of New Orleans’ tricentennial. (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

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“Human nature is the reason why I play the piano the way I do. But no just ordinary human nature — some people say I’m a freak of nature.”
— James Booker


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