Booker Ervin: Groovin’ High (1963/4) Prestige


Selection 1: Groovin’ High (Gillespie)  solos: Carmel Jones (t) Gildo Mahones (p)

Selection 2: The Second #2 (first outing for the signature track from The Space Book but taken at an even brisker pace)


Booker Ervin (ts) Jaki Byard or Gildo Mahones (p) Richard Davis (b) Alan Dawson (d) Carmell Jones (t) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 3, 1963, June 30, 1964, October 2, 1964.  Recorded during the same session that yielded “The Blues Book”.

Discography: Booker as leader:

The Book Cooks (1960), Cookin’ (1960), That’s It (1961), Exultation! (1963),Freedom Book (1963), The Song Book (1963), The Blues Book (1964), Groovin’ High (1963-4), Space Book (1964), Setting the Pace (1965), The Trance (1965), Lament for Booker Ervin (1965), Heavy! (1966), Structurally Sound (1966), Booker ‘n’ Brass (1967), The In Between (1968), Booker Ervin Quintet (1968)

Emerging from the Mingus cauldron in 1963 to take up a four-year relationship with Prestige, Booker Ervin was not minded to ease back in the direction of  emerging modal sensibilities, preferring instead to push forward to harvest the territory between hard bop and free jazz, but without  straying to far from his swinging, bluesy roots. He gathered around him a hard-driving rhythm unit and stuck with them, to create one of the tightest experimental bop units of the Sixties.
With The Book series on the shelf, and many of its surrounding titles, there are moments when you add another Booker Ervin title you fear you are going to get “more of the same”. You load up the turntable, only to rejoice, moments later, “Yeah! More of the same!!” as the infectious drive pulls you up on board.  It’s a similar feeling to another Monk or Blakey: there is always room for one more.
The icing on the cake here  is the addition of Carmel Jones on trumpet and Gildo Mahones piano on the title track. Jones is in particularly sparkling form, but everyone gets a chance to shine, and you have the variety of Jackie Byard in equally sparkling form on the remaining tracks. If some tracks overlap with Ervin’s surrounding releases, the title track ensures you have a lasting point of difference.
Vinyl: Prestige PR 7417
US original release on blue/silver trident label,  VAN GELDER stamp, vinyl 155 gm



Collectors Corner

Source: Ebay

Seller’s Description: US LP 1st Press 1966 Prestige Van Gelder

Bergenfield address – Van Gelder on runoff groove
Disc: Excellent condition – a couple of light surface marks – not audible
Cover: VG – several punch holes on sleeve. Light ring/storage wear

Auction Action:


Tough going! 13 bids pushed the price up more than I expected. I figure this is a relatively rare title, probably because it didn’t sell in any quantity due to perceived overlap with the Book releases, or may be it didn’t see a UK release by Transatlantic – I have not come across one. But it went higher than I thought, though not unacceptably ( or you wouldn’t be reading this). Second place price-setter – 63 bids in last 30 days, score 1,960 –  doubled the cost, thank you, but you guessed wrong.

BONUS: Cover Health Warning

In response to possible complaints regarding the display of cigarette smoking in public places, LJC introduces this exclusive alternative politically correct non-smokin’ edition of Booker’s Groovin’ High


Surgeon General Warning

The Surgeon General has determined that at some point, for some reason, you will certainly die. Listening to vinyl will not alter this outcome but can ensure you have a much better time before this inevitably comes about.

Listen to more vinyl, while you still have time. You know it makes sense.


15 thoughts on “Booker Ervin: Groovin’ High (1963/4) Prestige

  1. Recently picked up a 1972 Fantasy repress of this (cautiously, and at a very low price, thanks to the guidance of LJC) and was quite delighted to find a VAN GELDER stamp in the runout! Really sounded much better than I had expected, and Davis’ bass on “Bass-ix” gets the much deserved aural spot light. “Yeah! More of the same!!” indeed!

  2. I have vivid memories of hearing Charlie Parker playing “Groovin’ High,” as I listened to a show called “Bird Flight” on the NY station WKCR. I lived near the NYC metropolitan area at the time. The station, owned by Columbia University, had several wonderful jazz shows, festivals and birthday broadcasts. After listening to Parker on the way to a particularly dry auditing class, I found myself unconsciously whistling his tunes throughout the day. On one occasion, a friend, who happened to be a jazz drummer, heard me whistling and with excitement in his voice asked, “Where did you learn that song?” I replied, “I didn’t learn it but must have unconsciously picked it up while listening to Charlie Parker.”
    “Instead of singing like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest.” ..Henry David Thoreau’s “Waldon,” from the chapter called “Sounds.”

  3. RE Booker Ervin post I have The Space Book PR 7386 sleeve notes 1965 say Ervin turned his back on USA for Europe did he ever go back and record

  4. Maybe the previous owner once had the cover pinned to the wall of his bedroom, given the holes in each of the four corners? And the mind boggling speed of “The Second #2” made me a bit nervous; “Groovin’ High” on the other hand is a joy to listen to.

      • Mattyman/LJC: this pinching is very familiar to me. Al Johnson, responsible at Prestige for the warehouse, driver, handyman and occasional photographer (he made the pictures for some sleeves), executed Bob Weinstock’s orders to pichhole all returned items from retailers in the greater New York area prior to their destruction.
        I met Al in the late sixties at Prestige and I spent two days in the warehouse to save historical items from destruction. Al sold them to me for 50 cents.
        I did an extensive post on this for “jazzcollector”.

        • P.S. they invariably have two pichholes bottom right, that is how I recognize Al. I still have many pichholed albums, in the early 7000-series, in my collection.

        • Hello Rudolf, that’s new to me… So many punch holes? Jeez… I mean, I do have punched records in my seventies funk collection; those were always described as ‘cut out’ pressings, were always dirt cheap and without exception from the U.S. but then it always was just one punch hole.

          But I do remember your story (or at least I think it was yours) on where you told about your travels to the warehouse of Prestige. Talking about seeing green with envy!

          • My contribution on Jazzcollectorcan be found under “Guest Columns”, June 8, 2012 “Treasure Hunt – Prestige”.
            You are right Mattyman, industrial c/o’s are always with one pin hole. Al though made five!

  5. Job well done and if people like to smoke: let them; my beloved Lady does and it avoids any arguments me getting home with vinyls and hours listening jazz and painting.

    But do not recommend too many people to buy more vinyls before they will take the great journey! Could increase the price!

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