Booker Ervin: The In Between (1968) Liberty/Blue Note


Track Selection 1. Tyra (Ervin) – rip corrected 24/9/17

A dark, minor key swinger. Delicious. One of my five-a-day.

Track Selection 2. The In Between (Ervin)

Nervous energy and tension maintained by hard-driving percussion, Ervin in top form. (Did I hear someone say Coltrane-lite? Wash your mouth out!) Everyone gets some space in between Booker’s opening and closing.


Richard Williams (tp) Booker Ervin (ts, fl) Bobby Few (p) Cevera Jeffries (b) Lenny McBrowne (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 12, 1968


1968, into the third year of Liberty ownership of the Blue Note Catalogue, and an emerging era of Lou Donaldson’s Mr Shing-a-ling and Aligator Boogaloo,  the tide of soul jazz lapping around the ankles of hard bop, commercial potential, juke box hits and radio airplay concentrating minds.

The biting astringent tone of Ervin and the urgent propulsive energy of the quintet making exciting listening without falling off the edge into free-fall, or cat trapped-in-washing-machine histrionics. None of the musicians were familiar to me apart from Richard Williams trumpet but they all acquit themselves admirably.

The In Between was Booker Ervin’s last but one record. He died of kidney disease in New York City two years later, at the age of only 39.

Vinyl: BNST 84283

Blue Note, Division of Liberty Records Inc. 1st pressing 1968

Division of Liberty are a mixed bag, with those  produced in the immediate transition from original Blue Note leaving us some very fine pressings indeed (by All-Disc, Roselle, New Jersey) and some less than stellar reissues in the run up to its merger with corporate-minded United Artists. This is the recordings first release on Liberty label, and its take it or leave it. Fortunately its is a good pressing, not Plastylite, but a lot better than what was to follow in the next few decades.

It’s a nice cover picture, which would have been nicer still with a good laminate, and heavier card, but that was the direction of travel. Economy class. From this point, covers began to look cheap.

Check the run-out grooves – the catalogue number in a large, open hand.

No surprise with Division of Liberty, the familiar VAN GELDER machine stamp, The Master Was Here,  But just when you think you have seen it all, whoa! “Bestway” . Bestway? WTF is Bestway? A full machine stamped cursive corporate logo. Has to be a sign of an independent pressing plant: Bestway Products, Mountainside, New Jersey, pioneers in styrene injection moulding of singles for high volume low cost manufacture. Here they produce traditional quality vinyl.


Collectors Corner

West London vinyl store, who had a couple of Booker Ervin originals, by one of those happy coincidences, at the precise time I was looking for them. I knew they were there, because I had seen them there every time I browsed their shelves, over three or four years. What had changed in that time, of course, was me. I was now ready for Booker.

15 thoughts on “Booker Ervin: The In Between (1968) Liberty/Blue Note

    • That’s an interesting observation. I had to remind myself of the catalogue beyond 4283, through to 4435. I count maybe only a half dozen among those 150-odd albums that are recorded after this date which are worthy members of the original Blue Note family. It’s a matter of personal taste, of course, others will differ, but I see just a handful: Duke Pearson/The Phantom, Andrew Hill/Grass Roots, McCoy Tyner/Time for Tyner, Hancock/The Prisoner, Mobley /The Flip. I’m not including Shorter/Super Nova (howls of protest!) as it’s the one Shorter album I just can’t get on with.

      Interested in the views of others?

      • always interested in the view of others, that’s why I come here! I like all those LPs you mention (and Ervin even plays the HiIl LP) I would personally rank the In Between a notch above them for “exceptional” quality, though the Hancock gives it a run for it’s money and is full year later

        • …..I came back to hear your quality rip and whilst there re-read the comments. …By the way mine was more of question than an observation. So what indeed was the last really top shelf blue note LP? (excluding later archive issues)

  1. Tyra is a brilliant track, the best on the LP and one of Booker’s best, but the sound file you’ve posted is not Tyra, nor Booker for that matter, nice though it is!

  2. Way late but I have a regular liberty and a bestway pressing. Bestway had nothing on the sleeve Liberty had regular printed BN Liberty sleeve… FWIW

  3. Booker Ervin was an amazing talent. I was turned on to him by a friend several years ago and own most of this albums. The Prestige LPs are nearly all essential, especially the quartet sessions (Space Book, Freedom Book, Song Book). At one time I owned 5 copies of The In Between just because I wanted to cleanest first pressing and because they were selling for $10 to $15 – which is ridiculous for an LP that good which is over 40 years old!

    • I’m in total agreement. A friend also turned me on to Booker Ervin. His sound is exquisite. I also have multiple copies of the same albums. Ironically, the “Blue Note” 2fer: “Back from the Gig,” has the best sound quality, in my opinion. It has some of the original characteristic Blue Note clarity and dynamics.

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