Booker Ervin The Blues Book (1964) UK


Track Selection: One for Mort

Everyone booked for speeding before the finish of this track


Carmell Jones (tp) Booker Ervin (ts) Gildo Mahones (p) Richard Davis (b) Alan Dawson (d) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 30, 1964


The Blues Book easily holds its own among the Book series, with a blues flavour to complement the other book themes: cooking, singing, freedom and …umm… space.

In Jazz polls, Ervin  was voted in the “Deserving of Wider Recognition” category. The problem for any saxophonist in the Sixties must have been being measured up against the giant figures of Coltrane and Rollins. Ervin is no Coltrane-Lite. He has his own distinctive hard-edged voice, capable of complex figures and turns at a cracking pace, his musical ideas sharpened by his years with Mingus. His playing is free without going over to the dark side or falling over the edge into free-fall.  When Ervin takes off, you know you are in for an interesting ride, and the Dawson/ Davis rhythm section keep things on solid ground.

Sometimes you want something different from “giants”, otherwise you could spend your whole life listening to Coltrane. And whats wrong with that? I hear you say. Just saying. Musical nourishment requires variety, exposure to other artists and styles, who all have something to say worth hearing. Man can not live on Coltrane alone.

An interesting choice on trumpet of Carmell Jones, whose main claim to fame is his place on Horace Silver’s classic “Song For My Father”, and the relatively unknown pianist Gildo Mahones, a sidesman who eventually settling for a studio career in LA. Some will lament the absence of Jaki Byard here, who always adds a layer of additional interest to Booker’s readings.

vinyl UK release of Prestige 7340

First UK release, re-mastered in UK by Transatlantic under license from Prestige.



Collectors Corner

Source: Record shop, London

Transatlantic picked up the Prestige UK distribution baton from Esquire some time around 1966. These mid to late Sixties releases are “forty-year old records” in their own right, also deserving of wider recognition. They are great pressings – something which isn’t widely recognised by the average vinyl seller or collector, to whom it appears just a “reissue” like the lesser Affinity, Pablo, Boplicity, and OJC. The vinyl is usually in great condition, due to the light tracking weight of tonearms by that time, the protective benefit of 150gm weight of vinyl, and  time served somewhere in storage for twenty years as owners were seduced by the superficial charms of the Evil Silver Disk.

Just as Esquire is a viable alternative to original early Prestige, Transatlantic is the equivalent just a few years on, and can be easily recommended, especially as you avoid the lottery of some noisy pressings among later US Prestige releases.

Thinking of noisy Prestige,  I recently had to return a fairly unusual 1961 pressing of Art Blakey’s Cu-Bop on Jubilee, an American label hitherto unknown to me. Whilst the vinyl looked excellent to the eye, it crackled from start to finish like bacon and eggs in the frying pan. Made a hissy Prestige sound like virgin vinyl in comparison.

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