Chu Berry died young, and he died before great attention was being paid to jazz musicians, so there is far less data about his early years than there is about the great majority of his contemporaries who lived longer lives. All we have are a handful of contemporary newspaper pieces and the various interviews with and articles written about the people he was associated with.
Leon “Chu” Berry was a man born into a world that offered diminished opportunities for African-Americans and yet here is a collection of his work being issued over six decades after his death. Why? Because Berry mastered an instrument and, through the tenor saxophone, speaks not only to us today but also takes us right back to the 1930s, a time of momentous change in the world and in jazz, which was evolving at an exponential rate.
Consider the opinion of many that this man, if he hadn't died young in the passenger seat of a wayward auto, might have become the most influential tenor saxophonist of the 20th Century. While many hear the sugar-sweet, florid runs of Coleman Hawkins, who came before him, the drive and swing and surprises belong to Chu Berry, and those elements are about the jazz that was to come.