Friday, December 01, 2006

Walter Booker

The death of bassist Walter Booker last Friday puts me in mind of my dear departed friend Eric Nisenson. Best known for his books Blue: The Murder of Jazz and Ascension: John Coltrane & His Quest, Eric was a regular at Booker's Boogie Woogie Studio in the mid-'70s after Eric had moved to New York City from San Francisco. From what Eric and Booker's ex-wife told me, the studio was quite a hang-out in those days, and Miles Davis was a frequent visitor.

At Eric's request, Booker introduced him to Miles, sparking a four-year relationship that resulted in Eric's first book, 'Round About Midnight, which was his attempt to salvage an autobiography project that later resurfaced with co-author Quincy Troupe.

Eric was never one to tell tales out of school, but he shared enough information that it's clear those were wild times around the New York music scene, essentially buried in a blizzard of cocaine. Some of this may likely resurface in a book that producer-saxophonist-composer Bob Belden tells me that he's writing, based on Davis's so-called "dark years," when Eric and few others were allowed into his brownstone on West 77th Street.

Despite occasionally having his arm twisted into delivering drugs to Miles, Eric helped keep him connected to the outside world during those years, which is likely one of the things that eventually led to his resurfacing in 1981. So, in a roundabout way, we have Walter Booker to thank for that.

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