Booker Ervin

Ervin 2Originally from Texas, Booker Ervin started out on the trombone and later taught himself how to play the tenor saxophone while he was in the air force. He later studied in Boston from 1953 to 1954. His 1st important playing opportunities came in 1958 when he joined the Charles Mingus group—he performed with Mingus off and on through the mid-1960s. Here are some of his early significant recordings with Mingus.

Booker Ervin - Episode 1

Nostalgia in Times SquareCharles MingusMingus in Wonderland 1959
Open Letter to DukeCharles MingusMingus Ah Um1959
Goodbye Pork Pie HatCharles MingusMingus Ah Um1959
Better Get Hit in Yo' SoulCharles MingusMingus Ah Um1959
BugsCharles MingusThe Complete Candid Recordings1960
Prayer for Passive ResistanceCharles MingusMingus at Antibes1960

Booker Ervin - Episode 2

This podcast features his first albums as a bandleader. These recordings show that he is beginning to show a great deal of originality and establish an identifiable sound. In his early work you can hear the influences of Coltrane, Rollins, and few other “Texas” tenors in his sound. The sound is compact and bright. At times he comes close to overblowing the instrument, but does not. In addition to be a great interpreter of the blues he can handle ballads equally as well—check out Uranus. Over the next few years he would do a series of memorable albums with words “book” or “cook” in the title.
CompositionArtistAlbum Year
The Book CooksBooker ErvinThe Book Cooks1960
Little JaneBooker ErvinThe Book Cooks 1960
Dee Da DoBooker ErvinCookin'1960
Autumn LeavesBooker ErvinCookin'1960
UranusBooker ErvinThat's It1961
BooBooker ErvinThat's It1961

Booker Ervin - Episode 3

Booker steps out as a bandleader and important stylist on the tenor sax. His playing undergoes a number of changes due to his work with Mal Waldron, Eric Dolphy, and other musicians whose work is influenced by the newer avant-garde/free jazz movement. This approach allows for more melodic and rhythmic freedom.
Up and DownHorace ParlanUp and Down1961
Status SeekingMal Waldron SextetThe Quest1961
Al's InBooker ErvinThe Freedom Book1963
Grant's StandBooker ErvinThe Freedom Book1963
True BlueBooker ErvinThe Blues Book1964

Booker Ervin - Episode 4

In the mid 1960’s Ervin was very busy recording with a number of well known and up and coming musicians on the jazz scene. He formed an outstanding studio quartet that featured Richard Davis on bass, Jaki Byard on piano, and Allen Dawson on drums. That group recorded The Space Book and The Blues Book, two of his best recordings from 1964. Unfortunately the band never performed in public.
Number TwoBooker ErvinThe Space Book1964
I Can't Get Started Booker ErvinThe Space Book1964
Eerie DearieBooker ErvinThe Blues Book1964
FranessBooker ErvinStructurally Sound1966

Booker Ervin - Episode 5

On this podcast I will examine his important recordings from 1968. It could be said that he came of age when jazz clubs were waning and although he recorded with outstanding musicians he did not have a regular working band; this affected his ability to seek wider audiences. The recordings that he did make were often on small labels with limited distribution. These recording from 1968 are the culmination of a career cut far too short. Booker Ervin passed in 1970.
Grass RootsAndrew HillGrass Roots1968
Bayou RedAndrew HillGrass Roots1968
LargoBooker ErvinThe In Between1968
MourBooker ErvinThe In Between1968
GichiBooker ErvinTextbook Tenor1968
204Booker ErvinTextbook Tenor1968