Juini Booth, who plied his bass with some of the grandest figures in jazz history, has died at 73.
Over his six decade career, Booth was a member of Sun Ra Arkestra and accompanied such legends as Art Blakey, Pharoah Sanders, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, and Coleman Hawkins. He passed away July 11th, according to Buffalo News, after a six-week decline in health preceded by breaking his hip in a fall at home.
Born Arthur Edward Booth on Feb. 12th, 1948, Booth picked up his nickname from his sister Mary Booth-Bowden. “My mother would say, ‘Go call Junior!’ and I would say, ‘Juini!” she said. “He would tell everybody, ‘My sister named me!'”
Booth first established himself in the jazz scene of his hometown of Buffalo, New York. He moved to New York City after an encounter with Art Blakey. According to his longtime friend, pianist Kevin Doyle, “When Art Blakey came to Buffalo, Juini sat in with the band. In one version of the story, Art Blakey told him, ‘When you’re in New York, look me up!’ The story is that Juini got on a train the next day to go to New York, and showed up with a suitcase and a bass at Art Blakey’s door, and that’s how he started playing with Art Blakey’s band.”
Booth initially performed with Sun Ra in the 1980s and he rejoined the Arkestra in 1996. He also collaborated with such luminaries as Chuck Mangione, Gary Bartz, Steve Grossman, Albert Ayler, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Randy Weston, Ron Carter, Sonny Sharrock, and Freddie Hubbard.
“Juini didn’t have a real religion, but he thinks he did,” Boot-Edwards said. “Juini’s religion was the treble-clef bass.”