Sonny Booker


A Garfield High School football and track star, Booker studied with Frank Waldron, played at the New Chinatown with Gerald Brasher when he was still in high school and was in the trumpet section of Billy Tolles’ Savoy Boys, in 1941, hosting a jam session at the Madison Street YMCA, Booker was instrumental in introducing young Ernestine Anderson to local players. After playing with various bands led by Bumps Blackwell, Jabo Ward and Al PIerre, Booker left music in the early ’50s and worked as a bartender, then in the ’60s ran his own club, the Checkmate, at 23rd and Union, which served as an informal clubhouse for the Black Panthers. A fencing master, Booker later coached actors in Los Angeles, ran the Silver Fox limousine service in Seattle and at the end of his life was presenting a music series, Jazz on the Green, at Interbay Golf.

Jackson Street After Hours (print).