Booker Ervin: That’s it! (1961) Candid


Selection 1 High Energy: Speak Low (Nash Weill)

Selection 2 Languid Mood: Uranus (Ervin)


Booker Ervin (ts) Horace Parlan – listed as Felix Krull nom-de-date (p)  George Tucker (b), Al Harewood (d) recorded at Nola Penthouse Sound Studios, New York, January 6, 1961.

Ervin’s third album as leader, recorded while Mingus’ chosen voice on tenor saxophone.

Year: 1961 The Berlin Wall completed, partitioning East and West Germany

trabantEast Germany: the last production year of the popular Trabant 500 car, main selling points: simple to drive, had room for four adults and luggage in a compact design, and a conveniently located heater at the back to keep your hands warm when pushing it. Superceded by the equally popular 600 model.


Everything here was short-lived – the Candid label, this quartet, and Ervin himself, who died in 1970 aged only 39, after a recording career of less than a decade. Whilst the tenor landscape was dominated by the likes of Rollins and Coltrane, each tenor player has their own unique voice and style. Booker Ervin is instantly recognisable, with his urgent biting tone and tremendous drive, energy and vitality, whether mingling in a Mingus nonet or leading his own quartet.

Enthusiasts of the brief flowering of Candid Records (I’ve just ordered another one) argue these unique sessions pushed musicians to greater creativity than did other labels. With its focus on Mingus, Dolphy, Cecil Taylor and Steve Lacy,  it almost defines its own genre of more edgy progressive modern jazz of the early Sixties, retaining the energy of Bop with looser and more adventurous rhythmic and tonal approaches.

What might have Candid become if the label had persisted, not just for eight months, but another three or four or years? Instead, owner Archie Bleyer concentrated on his hit-making Cadence label artists like  Andy Williams and the Everly Brothers, and the artistic driving force behind the Candid  label, writer and jazz critic Nat Hentoff , moved on to pursued other journalistic interests. So the great jazz label that wasn’t, or not for long. Unlike the East German Trabant, which remained in production substantially unchanged for over thirty years.

Vinyl: Candid 8014 US original; 124gm

Uncharacteristic thin vinyl for a New York 1961 pressing, at only 124 grams, easily  mistaken for a reissue or clone but for the authentic deep groove, and the characteristic engravings in the run-out, typical of other Candid pressings. See the new Candid label guide for a closer look. The audio quality is typically superior analogue production of its time, despite the thinner vinyl, though the thinner vinyl is more vulnerable to surface damage, scuffing and the like, of which there is a little. Record care was never the hipster’s forte, though nothing like what I overheard from someone negotiating over a rare reggae single in a Camden record store: That’s a shame, it’s got a cigarette burn…I assume it was a cigarette.



Collectors Corner

Source: Ebay (Sweden)
Sellers Description:
Cover Condition: VG Wear around edges. 2/3 seamsplit left edge.
Record Condition: EXC Clean and nice, some light marks only.

Envy rating 4Original Candid is not something you find every day. If you are a Booker Ervin fan, this is as hard to get title as any.

smug-index-3-Ouch! It was a trifle expensive, but you can feel smug about having this beauty on your shelf

cool-3Booker Ervin is appreciated among hipsters. A Coltrane-like voice, he is to be savoured for his insistent urgent  attack.

If there was any downside attached to this record it was the  postage cost. The international postal charges from Sweden where it originated, like Canada and now the US, is now a very significant part of the cost of a record on Ebay, especially where sellers also unnecessarily demand tracking, to protect themselves at your extra expense. Add the risk of import duty and buying overseas is looking increasingly unattractive. Good news for local record shops, if they can stay in business.

9 thoughts on “Booker Ervin: That’s it! (1961) Candid

  1. Thanks for introducing me to this gem of and album, and Booker Ervin. I bought a Barnaby repress of this LP, sound quality is good: great dynamics, a little noisy (back ground hiss) between songs, but generally really good. Music is sublime, just brilliant.

  2. People can drone on about Rollins and Coltrane all they want, but I don’t think they came any better than Booker Ervin. Wonderful stuff.

    • I absolutely agree Justin, though you have to take care where you express such views. Rollins Fans tend to be old school, pretty relaxed, but these young Coltrane Fundamentalists…

      I feel a poll coming soon, on favourite Tenor players.

      • ready to shoot….with all my respect for any musician who put his tenor in mouth, the instrument I love best, there are giants and lieutenants.

      • thank you LJC for coming up with another Candid gem. In my view Hentoff showed how far one could go in modernsm tied to tradition. Modern music has never surpassed the qualitative level of these Hentoff sessions. Blue Note becoming a factory of repetitive, hard sounding, uninspired, mainstream, modular hard bop. No innovation. The innovation at all price of ESP was a dead end. Hentoff got it all. He by the way, produced the Cecil Taylor album for Contemporary and also produced the first Benny Golson album ever, well before Riverside and N.J., also issued by Contemporary.
        It is true that the Candid vinyl was light, but it is as thick as records of that period. Reason for me to believe that the composition of the material was different in terms of s.g.

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