Booker Ervin The Space Book (1964)

Track Selection: Mojo


Booker Ervin (ts) Jaki Byard (p) Richard Davis (b) Alan Dawson (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 2, 1964


Ervin, fresh from a seven-year stint with Mingus, continued to grow musically more adventurous in the mid Sixties. A hard biting tenor voice reminiscent of Coltrane, though not quite as ferocious in his linear attack, Ervin pulls off bursts of speed interspersed with strong compositional lines. There is a large musical canvas opened up by fellow Mingus stalwart Jackie Byard, and the bass and drums have space to contribute without being aggressively “free”.The music has a wonderful luminosity, “space”, even.

Vinyl: Transatlantic UK first release (1967) of Prestige PR 7386

Transatlantic was an independent label, formed in 1961 by music entrepreneur Nat Joseph, initially to release folk and blues, later extending to licensing agreements to release  Riverside and Prestige (which it took over after the closure of Esquire).

Unlike Esquire, who pressed Prestige records with original US stampers, Transatlantic Records followed the conventional route of fresh mastering from a copy tape.

The pressing plant is not identified but the matrix is not Philips (10 o’clock position, with country code)  or Decca style (usually at 6 o’clock position, with letter identifying the engineer) , and points to EMI, though it is not exactly their style either. Whoever did it, the result is a beautiful clear balanced sound image with rich vibrant bass through to the top end, which sparkles. It is lovely vinyl, and sidesteps the hissy vinyl of original Prestige in the mid Sixties.

I had the misfortune to pay a lot for another Booker Ervin on Original Prestige and the vinyl hisses throughout. You feel like pulling Bob Weinstock out of his resting place and giving him a good slap.

Could be DECCA, or EMI, or none of them.

Collectors Corner

Source: London vinyl specialist store

The Transatlantic label reissues. For years  I had ignored all reissues as sonically inferior, which indeed most of them are. But there’s always those darned exceptions. I love finding out that I have been wrong. It has taught me much more than being right, in the long run. There are somethings in life you hope are always right, say, airline pilots decisions, but in the matter of tastes, the things you have been wrong about is a whole potential treasure chest.

I am now on my sixth and they are beautiful pressings, a veritable flower in the reissue desert. Just don’t tell any one. This post will self destruct in ten seconds, and counting, nine, eight, seven…

2 thoughts on “Booker Ervin The Space Book (1964)

  1. Ervin’s only recently started to grow on me, but we can share. Jazzers are of necessity polygamous in their tastes.

    …four, three, two…

    Stop! Prefer Ervin to Coltrane? That is a serious offence under Prevention of Implied Criticism of Jazz Icons, Section Two: Coltrane

  2. Looks like I’m within the 10 seconds, yeah.
    I’ve seen Transatlantic-reissues popping up once in a while and I never took the chance to snipe on one. The sonic impression is very good indeed and I really like their cover-designs. Very much reduced to the essence and somehow pointing into the 70ies.
    “The Space Book” is a hell of a session, but you have to grow on it, I might say. It never really touched myself emotionally, but cognitive I recognize it as a heavyweight session. I pretty much discover the later recordings, Ervin has made, for Blue Note, Pacific Jazz, Atlantic. He has a very distinctive voice and sometimes he cuts directly into your heart. (and shhh, sometimes I enjoy him more than JC)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s