Booker Ervin: Setting The Pace (1965) Fantasy


Selection: Dexter’s Deck

Not exactly difficult choice, since there are only two tracks on the whole album, side one and side two.


Booker Ervin, Dexter Gordon (ts) Jaki Byard (p) Reggie Workman (b) Alan Dawson (d recorded Munich, West Germany, October 27, 1965, recording by Will Schmidt


A recording five month’s into Dexter Gordon’s five year European Vacation, having concluded a run of successful Blue Notes with Getting Around (BLP 4204) and in the midst of a long run of Steeplechase albums in Copenhagen ( sent out for a Danish, decided to stay). The Prestige origin no doubt derives from Booker Ervin’s contract, hence Ervin leads and Gordon guests courtesy of Blue Note.

A happy blowing session recorded in Munich, Germany with a top notch full house of American swinging sidemen. Send out for more steins! No New York scene introspection and experimental pushing of boundaries here. A rattling good blowing session with everyone stretching out to twenty minutes a side.

Vinyl: PRT 7455 – 1973 reissue by Fantasy Records – note VAN GELDER stamp on Side 2  only on the Dexter Gordon session – Vinyl weight 91 grams

What’s cheap vinyl like this hanging round a nice deck like yours LJC – Low self-esteem?

Normally I give the light green Fantasy reissues a wide birth, but the original cover caught my eye, as did the Schmidt collection provenance written on the back of the sleeve. A trip to the counter to check the vinyl was rewarded by the surprising sight of a VAN GELDER stamp, on one side. A mid Sixties release, production, photo and cover design by the excellent Don Schlitten, and liner notes attributed to writer David Himmelstein, not a name I recognised, but surprised to find these notes referred to as  a classic:

 Liner Notes – these essays on the backs of records comprise “a minor literary genre,” often providing background on the musicians and the recordings, historical contexts, musical analysis, a window into the recording process, intimate anecdotes and personal views of the musicians that have an immediacy and warmth rarely found in other jazz writing–setting the tempo, in a sense, for the listener’s appreciation of the music

What makes the liner notes unique as a form is that, unlike reviews or even a jazz concert’s program notes, one reads them at the same time that one experiences the art: they offer criticism in the rudimentary sense of making the art available, of enlarging its meaning in the moment of direct experience.

Good liner notes stick in the listener’s mind and attach themselves the experience of listening to the record; the best, in fact, like David Himmelstein’s notes to Booker Ervin’s “Setting the Pace” or Amiri Baraka’s to “Coltrane’s Live at Birdland,” have themselves become classics, touchstones of the music.

from “Jazz albums as art – some reflections  “

If you take a moment or two to read the liner notes, I would put them down as “painfully hip” , as in “so hip he can barely see over his pelvis” (Douglas Adams) but apparently they are “classic”.

Ervin-Setting-the-Pace-blueI had never come across  the original in its’ blue /silver trident label incarnation, but one side at least was pressed in 1973 with the same stamper from 1965 , not long after the sale of Prestige to Fantasy. Curiosity got the better of me.

And very nice sounding blowing session, all the more interesting for the play-off between two contrasting tenor stylists – Dexter Gordon’s measured big tone, and Ervin’s more Coltrane-like driven sound. And confounding expectations, the light green reissue sounds very acceptable (albeit no original to compare it with)


Note the back cover (if not the record) is from famous collector Schmidt’s collection – his distinctive italic black ink signature on the side.


Collectors Corner

smug-index-1-Envy rating 1cool-1


Source: North London record store.

It has been slow on the Ebay front, all the sellers must be on holiday. It’s slim pickings. You have to look harder. It must also be a problem for anyone with a growing jazz collection. Many of the records that cross your path at this point you either already have or you don’t want, and the remaining ones you are still looking for are more rare and often too expensive, leading to a natural slow down of the rate of acquisition. I think I can now understand the problem of TokyoJazzCollector, staring every day at the Mobley 1568 gap on their shelf. Time to think about the next upgrade to the hi-fi.  The arm.


I get forty or fifty spam posts every day, mostly online pharmacy fishing for that one in a million gullible person, but occasionally a genuine post gets caught by the spam-filter, so I have to take a quick look every day. You would despair of the human race, shallow tricksy flattery, but every now and then the spammer has crafted a real prize-winner. They say if you wish to flatter, lay it on with a trowel. This gets todays award, a mighty 4/5 Golden Trowels


Congratulations on having one of the most sophisticated blogs I’ve arrived across in some time! Its just incredible how very much you can take away from anything simply because of how visually beautiful it is. You’ve put with each other a fantastic weblog space. Great graphics, videos, layout. This is absolutely a must-see weblog!

11 thoughts on “Booker Ervin: Setting The Pace (1965) Fantasy

  1. i just uncovered a blue and silver label prst 7455, vangelder both sides, near mint. how does one tell if it is an original? i am new to this–never looked at a jazz lp until last week and am trying to sell what has been in storage for 35 years.


  2. I picked up a mono blue label copy based on your post. It had been languishing in the bins for months. I had personally passed over it in favor of more vintage selections. Price was fair at under $10USD. The cover is identical to yours minus the STEREO * STEREO * STEREO banner. Is yours actually stereo? I didn’t see STEREO stamped on your copy.

    Also, in a fit of LJC OCD, I compared the relative position of the VAN GELDER stamp and catalog number between our copies and they do not match. The two are much closer together on my copy. Probably no significance at all but curiosity got the best of me.


    • If you listen to the sample it sounds stereo to me. When they are in duet, Booker and Dexter are from different speakers. The cover says stereo, though it is a much better quality cover than you expect from a Fantasy reissue, so I am in two minds as to its origin. In those very early days of Fantasy ownership – 1973 – who knows what went on, mixing new and old stampers?


  3. Good day,

    I would like to suggest that you open an Instagram account. I’m on the medium and it has proved itself to be such a revealation on matters vinyl, hifi and jazz.

    Please do.

    Best Regards, Shavana


  4. Interesting stuff – definitely going to apply the forensics if I see one of these down at King Bee Records.
    Feel though for ManchesterJazzCollector who has to scavenge in the sub £20 bin once he gets home from t’slagheap. Still I did manage to score a mongrel split label Blue Note for a sub-£15 price recently that turned out to be a heavy vinyl weight sonic gem. Better sound-wise than another I paid more than twice the price for.
    Interested to know which records you’d keep if you had to whittle em down to five or eight as in Desert Island Discs?


  5. Nice stuff. Love Booker, and I have missed this one.

    Good lord, those Fantasy green labels are the worst! I would be difficult to design an uglier label. How Prestige degraded from NYC fireworks to puke green is mystery.


  6. Well Tokyo Jazz Collector will have to look a bit harder for this one, as I bought a copy of this LP from Shinjuku Disc Union a couple of weeks ago. Mine is identical with the same Van Gelder stamp just on the one side but I can confirm this LP is now resting back in its rightful place…North London


    • Ah, North London, fond memories. The golden sands, the waving palms, dusky beauties welcoming you with garlands of flowers as you step off the number 13 bus at Golders Green. Paradise indeed, Moko.


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