Booker Ervin Freedom Book (1963) Prestige


Standout Track: A day To Mourn (Ervin) An emotionally charged ballad written shortly after the assassination of JFK.


Booker Ervin (ts) Jaki Byard (p) Richard Davis (b) Alan Dawson (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 3, 1963


Considered the pinnacle of Ervins “Book” series Blues, Space and Freedom. Booker Ervin and Jaki Byard both veterans of Mingus, have paid their dues, and play edgy modern bop superb. Booker delivers a Coltrane-like biting tone at times, and his tenor voice is very compelling. Sadly he died at the age of only forty, in 1970.

Vinyl: Prestige PR 7295

US original press, on hissy vinyl, thanks to Bob Weinstock’s imfamous penny-pinching business approach. If I were looking for this album again I would look for UK Transatlantic or Prestige later pressing on Blue/Silver Trident as preferrable.

I confess I was seduced by the superb cover, in flagrant disregard of the recently-discovered dangers of tertiary cigarette smoke, the increased health risk associated with looking at pictures of people smoking.

“Rare!!” Hard to find, with the “wrong label” – Roy Haynes “Cracklin” – the right catalogue number for Booker Ervin, but wrong leader and track titles on side one. Someone was having a bad day at the record pressing plant. Cracklin’ was released on New Jazz NJ 8286



Collectors Corner

Auditioning the record in-store I failed to pick up the hissy vinyl, it sounded “normal” but fortunately it is a busy album with few quiet passages where the recycled vinyl sound is obtrusive. Weinstock has a lot to answer for, compromising too many ’60s Prestige titles with recycled vinyl, unforgivable.

8 thoughts on “Booker Ervin Freedom Book (1963) Prestige

  1. I realize I’m a few years late to this gig but I wanted to comment on my experience of JFK’s assassination. It happened when I was a boy in elementary school. I vividly remember seeing teachers walking down the hallway in tears. A friend of mine who lived next door was glued to his television for the entire funeral procession. I remember my mother telling me to go outside and play. She was afraid that I was too young to be exposed to so much grief.

  2. My yellow fireworks mono vinyl is a Preview Copy (stamped in red in back of jacket). Hardly any hiss unlike your sample. A love this record. I recently purchased the stereo Analogue Productions issue as well.

    • Recycled vinyl is a bummer, every one from ebay seller to store manager to Weinstock himself probably look blankly at you, like they don’t quite understand what you are saying, “Recycled ? Really?” That’s nothing more than the normal sound of vinyl” I have been told. It’s for this reason I have given up buying “original” New Jazz, and steer clear of some original Prestige, especially the early Stereo, for that and a host of other reasons. You are fortunate to have an uncontaminated copy, me less so.

  3. It’s more than a recommendation. It’s kind of the definitive version. 😉
    I think that the version with DG on side two is the original first pressing. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. Interesting to see this label variation. I don’t like the mixed-up labels myself (and I don’t understand how they can be collectable), but this one is intriguing. How does a NJLP find it’s way to a yellow/black-Bergenfield label? I’ve never seen “Cracklin'” on the Prestige label?!
    Anyways, the music is great and Ervin has made some of the best recordings, being issued on the Prestige/New Jazz label.
    “Cracklin” is one of my mos favourite records. If you don’t have it, grab it! Haynes is mean.

  5. The Book cooks! Stinging solo playing from Mr. Ervin. Go get Cracklin’ too… awesome record!

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