Booker Ervin: Back From The Gig (1963/68) Blue Note / UA


Selection: Home in Africa (Ronnie Boykins)

The track selection Home in Africa is credited to Ronnie Boykins, best known as Sun Ra’s bass player, one more at Home in Outer Space.


Johnny Coles (trumpet) Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone) Horace Parlan (piano) Grant Green (guitar) Butch Warren (bass) Billy Higgins (drums) In the later session Woody Shaw replaces Coles and Kenny Barron replaces  Parlan.  Recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 15, 1963 and May 24, 1968.


The album is home to an unusual “Horace Parlan Sextet” with Johnny Coles on trumpet and the serendipitous addition of Grant Green; the second later recording is more recognizably a Booker Ervin session.

Parlan provides a fine rhythmic canvas with shifting modal textures for some challenging exploration. Booker is searing and passionate as always, partnered perfectly with Woody Shaw, and all the soloists, including Parlan, are able to stretch out, unhindered by too much compositional baggage. Perfect mid ’60s adventurous music.

Vinyl: BN-LA488-H2

From the Blue Note vaults , recorded by van Gelder and released towards the end of United Artists tenure of the Blue Note label. The vinyl etchings and labels tell no story except anonymous  manufacture, on which I saved the effort of photography.  The van Gelder recordings are a different story, fresh as yesterday, which thankfully the UA engineers managed to master them accordingly well. This particular title defies all expectations of ’70s re-issues.

The earlier session was later released in 1988 under Horace Parlan’s name as Happy Frame of Mind and the later session was finally released in 2005 as Tex Book Tenor. The Blue Label two-fer offers you fresh vinyl quality for this exciting music


Gatefold: beige

What can I say? It’s not Impulse is it (sigh) But the writing is superior, even if the artwork isn’t. I grimace at the choice of beige paper, which doesn’t age well, and looks “made to look cheap” , if it ever was. This is one of those records you buy despite its cover.


Booker-Ervin-two-fer back-1800
Collectors Corner
If you don’t have this album, go scour the world for  a copy immediately. It should cost no more that $25, for a double LP, astonishing value. Your only difficulty will be the whinny little voice that says  “if it’s so cheap it can’t be any good”.

There are a number of essentials in the two-fer series. I have around fifteen and only one or two don’t make the grade. Some of them are actually reissues of recordings tha are almost impossible to find affordably in their original release (Paul Chambers’ Whim of Chambers, Freddie Hubbard’s Hub Cap) but most are “never before issued re-issues”


Jackie-Mclean-two-fer-front-1800 Andrew-Hill-One-for-One--frontcover-1800-LJC


more to come…



Anyone out there have any recommendations in this two-fer series? There are over fifty as I recall.

47 thoughts on “Booker Ervin: Back From The Gig (1963/68) Blue Note / UA

  1. I just picked up the “Back From The Gig” 2-fer. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Maybe I’m just lucky and received an early pressing in the run, but wow! This is some of the best jazz I’ve ever heard. The clarity of the piano is amazing. Actually, every instrument sounds superb.

    I’m sure my new turntable and cartridge helps but nobody will ever convince me that digital media sounds this good.


    • Symbiosis. You are listening to some of the best recordings Van Gelder ever made, and you are listening to them on a revealing, vinyl play system, it just gets better and better. The sheer quality of this and many other twofers continues to astound: Lee Morgan’s The Procrastinator, Stan Turrentine’s Jubilee Shouts, Jackie McLean’s Jacknife, I defy anyone not to fall in love with these records.


  2. Now got my hands on five of these little beauties. At the moment I am giving a lot of platter time (ouch!) to Pacific Standard Time by Gil Evans. The sonic clarity of the final track on side 1 – Struttin’ With Some Barbecue – is just astonishing. Oh dear! I feel another obsession coming on.


  3. Scored two of these two-fers this weekend at less than a fiver each: Herbie Nichols Third World and the Fats Navarro. Both in excellent condition. The Herbie N is particularly enjoyable. I’ve wanted these Herbie Nichols dates on vinyl since I was 21 – masterpieces shot through with a pensive, almost troubling intellect.
    Okay the covers aren’t great with the two-fers but they are stacked with informative liner notes and the pressing quality/ sonics are excellent. If it weren’t for the research on this site I’d have never have acquired these great records.
    This is not anal collector stuff but great tips on which great jazz records are really worth buying.
    Cheers LJC!


  4. Maybe I’m late or miss it but I just realized that there are two different kinds of Two-fers. “The Blue Note Re-issue Series” and “Blue Note Jazz Classic Series. My Jackie Mclean Hipnosis has the “UA” and “ECK” in the deadwax and my Andrew Hill has the same “UA” in the deadwax. Also the Labels are different.


    • I had the same question. I have two Jackie McLean twofers: “Hipnosis” and “Jackknife.” “Hypnosis” is on The “Blue Note Jazz Classic Series” and “Jackknife” is on “The Re-Issue Series.” They are two of my favorite albums and both sound excellent, but I haven’t made a serious comparison of sound quality.


  5. The Reissue series is indeed pretty nice, but I warn you not to buy any that contain MONO recordings. The day after Horace Silver passed I bought his TRIO SIDES twofer and found out that the mono tracks are all fake-stereo, mono with stereo reverb added. All mono twofers from these series that I’ve heard (like the Cecil Taylor) are like this unfortunately. The stereo tracks sound fab, though.


  6. Some of the two-fers I’ve seen have covers that were printed in the UK rather than California and a different label with a black note rather the white note. I presume they were also pressed in the UK. The only example I own that’s like that is the Konitz Mulligan two-fer which has mediocre to terrible sonics. Are these versions to be avoided?


    • In my experience the UK pressed United Artists Blue Notes – both two-fers and regular titles on blue label black note are all best avoided (no chauvinism here!) . I have chanced on a few and always been very disappointed on each occasion. The same goes for the UK-pressed Liberty/ US Jazz Classics LT series. Mediocre transfers, whoever was fault, they don’t compare with the US pressed editions. Maybe UA sent third or fourth generation tapes to the UK to work with, you can’t say for sure, but they are very poor. Not Decca or EMI standard – whoever was UA’s pressing plant, thumbs down.


  7. I had a feeling you would soon be covering Booker Ervin, another under-appreciated genius. I’ve purchased every Booker Ervin session I could find (And afford) ever since a friend told me about him a few years ago. The double album is indeed a great buy, although I would have trouble finding a near mint copy for $20.

    Thank you again for bringing the best jazz artists to our attention.


  8. BN-LA006-F McCoy Tyner – Extensions
    BN-LA007-G Moacir Santos – Maestro
    BN-LA014-G Wayne Shorter – Moto Grosso Feio
    BN-LA015-G2 Elvin Jones – Live At The Lighthouse
    BN-LA024-G Lou Donaldson – Sophisticated Lou
    BN-LA037-G2 Grant Green – Live At The Lighthouse
    BN-LA047-F Donald Byrd – Black Byrd
    BN-LA054-F Horace Silver – In Pursuit Of The 27th Man
    BN-LA059-F Alphonze Mouzon – The Essence Of Mystery
    BN-LA098-G Ronnie Foster – Sweet Revival
    BN-LA099-G Mickey Tucker/Roland Hanna – The New Heritage Keyboard Quartet
    BN-LA109-F Lou Donaldson – Sassy Soul
    BN-LA110-F Elvin Jones – Mr. Jones
    BN-LA140-F Donald Byrd – Street Lady
    BN-LA141-G2 Gene Harris – Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
    BN-LA142-G Bobbi Humphrey – Blacks And Blues
    BN-LA143-F Marlena Shaw – From The Depth Of My Soul
    BN-LA152-F Herbie Hancock/Willie Bobo – Succotash
    BN-LA158-G2 V.A. – Decades Of Jazz, Vol. 1
    BN-LA159-G2 V.A. – Decades Of Jazz, Vol. 2
    BN-LA160-G2 V.A. – Decades Of Jazz, Vol. 3
    BN-LA169-F Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else
    BN-LA170-G2 The Jazz Crusaders – Tough Talk
    BN-LA171-G2 Les McCann – Fish This Week
    BN-LA222-G Alphonze Mouzon – Funky Snakefoot
    BN-LA223-G McCoy Tyner – Asante
    BN-LA224-G Lee Morgan Memorial Album
    BN-LA249-G Bobby Hutcherson – Live At Montreux
    BN-LA250-G Ronnie Foster – Live At Montreux
    BN-LA251-G Marlena Shaw – Live At Montreux
    BN-LA252-G Bobbi Humphrey – Live At Montreux
    BN-LA257-G Bobby Hutcherson – Cirrus
    BN-LA258-G Don Minasi – When Joanna Loved Me
    BN-LA259-G Lou Donaldson – Sweet Lou
    BN-LA260-G Moacir Santos – Saudade
    BN-LA261-G Ronnie Foster – On The Avenue
    BN-LA267-G Clifford Brown – Brownie Eyes
    BN-LA313-G Gene Harris – Astral Signal
    BN-LA317-G Duke Pearson – It Could Only Happen With You
    BN-LA344-G Bobbi Humphrey – Satin Doll
    BN-LA356-H2 Freddie Hubbard Best Album
    BN-LA368-G Donald Byrd – Steppin’ Into Tomorrow
    BN-LA369-G Bobby Hutcherson – Linger Lane
    BN-LA370-G The Waters
    BN-LA392-H2 Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Best Album
    BN-LA393-H2 Dexter Gordon Best Album
    BN-LA394-H2 Stanley Turrentine Best Album
    BN-LA395-H2 Chick Corea Best Album
    BN-LA397-G Marlena Shaw – Who Is This Bitch Anyway
    BN-LA398-G Alphonse Mouzon – Mind Transplant
    BN-LA399-H2 Herbie Hancock Best Album
    BN-LA400-H2 Jimmy Smith Best Album
    BN-LA401-H2 Sonny Rollins Best Album
    BN-LA402-H2 Horace Silver Best Album
    BN-LA406-G Horace Silver – Silver ‘N Brass
    BN-LA425-G Ronnie Foster – Cheshire Cat
    BN-LA426-G Don Minasi – I Have The Feeling I’ve Been Here Before
    BN-LA451-H2 Paul Chambers/John Coltrane – High Step
    BN-LA452-G Ronnie Laws – Pressure Sensitive
    BN-LA453-H2 Sam Rivers – Involution
    BN-LA456-H2 Lester Young – The Aladdin Sessions
    BN-LA457-H2 Jackie McLean – Jacknife
    BN-LA458-H2 Cecil Taylor – In Transition
    BN-LA459-H2 Andrew Hill – One For One
    BN-LA460-H2 McCoy Tyner – Cosmos
    BN-LA461-H2 Gil Evans – Pacific Standard Time
    BN-LA462-G Carmen McRae – I Am Music
    BN-LA463-G Moacir Santos – Carnival Of The Spirits
    BN-LA464-G Eddie Henderson – Sunburst
    BN-LA472-H2 Chick Corea – Circling In
    BN-LA473-J2 Art Blakey – Live Messengers
    BN-LA474-H2 Horace Silver – The Trio Sides
    BN-LA475-H2 Sonny Rollins – More From The Vanguard
    BN-LA483-H2 Jackie McLean – Hipnosis
    BN-LA485-H2 Herbie Nichols – The Third World
    BN-LA488-H2 Booker Ervin – Back From The Gig
    BN-LA496-H2 Freddie Hubbard – Here To Stay
    BN-LA506-H2 Elvin Jones – The Prime Elements
    BN-LA507-H2 Fats Navarro – Prime Source
    BN-LA519-G Gene Harris – Nexus
    BN-LA520-H2 Chico Hamilton – Peregrinations
    BN-LA521-H2 Johnny Griffin/John Coltrane/Hank Mobley – Blowin’ Sessions
    BN-LA529-H2 Paul Horn In India
    BN-LA530-H2 The Jazz Crusaders – The Young Rabbits
    BN-LA531-H2 Wes Montgomery – Beginnings
    BN-LA532-H2 Gerry Mulligan/Lee Konitz – Revelation
    BN-LA533-H2 T-Bone Walker – Classics Of Modern Blues
    BN-LA534-G Jimmy Witherspoon – Spoonful
    BN-LA541-G John Lee/Gerry Brown – Mango Sunrise
    BN-LA549-G Donald Byrd – Places And Spaces
    BN-LA550-G Bobbi Humphrey – Fancy Dancer
    BN-LA551-G Bobby Hutcherson – Montara
    BN-LA579-H2 Thelonious Monk – The Complete Genius
    BN-LA581-G Horace Silver – Silver ‘N Woods
    BN-LA582-J2 Lee Morgan – The Procrastinator
    BN-LA584-G Alphonse Mouzon – The Man Incognito
    BN-LA590-H2 Milt Jackson – All Star Bags
    BN-LA591-H2 Art Pepper – Early Art
    BN-LA596-G Earl Klugh
    BN-LA598-H2 Randy Weston – Little Niles
    BN-LA606-G Marlena Shaw – Just A Matter Of Time
    BN-LA615-G Bobby Hutcherson – Waiting
    BN-LA622-G Chico Hamilton And The Prayers
    BN-LA628-H Ronnie Laws – Fever
    BN-LA632-H2 Jean-Luc Ponty – Cantaloupe Island
    BN-LA633-G Donald Byrd – Caricatures
    BN-LA634-G Gene Harris – In A Special Way
    BN-LA635-G Carmen McRae – Can’t Hide Love
    BN-LA636-G Eddie Henderson – Heritage
    BN-LA645-G Barbara Carroll
    BN-LA663-J2 V.A. – Blue Note Live At The Roxy
    BN-LA664-G Robbie Krieger And Friends
    BN-LA667-G Earl Klugh – Living Inside Your Love
    BN-LA690-J2 War – Platinum Jazz
    BN-LA699-G Bobbi Humphrey’s Best
    BN-LA700-G Donald Byrd’s Best
    BN-LA701-G John Lee/Gerry Brown – Still Can’t Say Enough
    BN-LA708-G Horace Silver – Silver ‘N Voices
    BN-LA709-H2 Carmen McRae At The Great American Music Hall
    BN-LA710-G Bobby Hutcherson – The View From Inside
    BN-LA711-G Willie Bobo – Tomorrow Is Here
    BN-LA730-H Ronnie Laws – Friends And Strangers
    BN-LA736-H Noel Pointer – Phantazia
    BN-LA737-H Earl Klugh – Finger Paintings
    BN-LA738-G Maxi Anderson – Maxi
    BN-LA760-H Gene Harris – Tone Tantrums
    BN-LA789-G Bobby Hutcherson – Knucklebean
    BN-LA819-H Rico Rodrigues – Man From Wareika
    BN-LA853-H Horace Silver – Silver ‘N Percussion
    BN-LA870-H Bobby Hutcherson/Carmen McRae/Earl Klugh – Blue Note Meets The L.A. Philharmonic
    BN-LA882-J2 Chick Corea – Circulus
    BN-LA883-J2 Stanley Turrentine – Jubilee Shouts
    BN-LA945-H Horace Silver – Sterling Silver


    • Now HIPNOSIS is a great record – whether you consider it a McLean set or a Moncur set. Recently reissued on vinyl by French reissuer Heavenly Sweetness – they don’t get great press but HIPNOSIS seems a well done reissue to me. I’d certainly rather have it than not have it.


  9. I read once the piano in recorded music on vinyl is like the “canary in a coal mine”, (my paraphrase). The first sign of problems with a turntables’ speed or the health of the phono cartridge will reveal itself in the sound of the piano. 


    • I found the converse is also true – the better the cartridge/ stylus/ phono the more sublime and “piano-like” the piano becomes. For a long time I thought the issue was with the pressing, but reproducing piano, the attack and decay and harmonic resonance, is a job requiring a very revealing system.


    • It’s a psychological thing really – like everything to do with music. “Wow and flutter” is the last thing you would expect from such objects as bells, triangles, celestas, and pianos. It contradicts your experience of reality and makes you wonder if your senses are still working properly. That’s why wow & flutter is much more obvious (and more annoying) in a piano than, say, in a tuba. (Tuba players, please bear with me.) Flutter, by the way, can make you mad when listening to a muted trumpet. Just listen to Miles’ “Someday My Prince Will Come” on an old cassette recorder…


      • I don’t even understand my ears let alone my psychology but nonetheless I think you’re right, Eduard — wow and flutter on pianos is excruciating, and on trumpets (especially long-held notes) heartbreaking.


      • I think extreme flutter effects the sound of all musical instruments.   But I agree, audio artifacts that create flutter in Miles’ muted trumpet are especially annoying.  Maybe it’s because Miles was so adamant about not playing with a vibrato. 


    • Cal, I think you are right and that many, many decades back canaries were only chosen in preference to pianos because they proved easier to get down mine shafts 🙂


  10. Great stuff. Fortunately the beige twofers are cheap because in my experience quality control is not their strong suit. I have in the recent past disposed of the Horace Silver, the Andrew Hill and the Herbie Nichols (all terrific records, btw) due to pressing problems (warping, off centre, tonal problems etc). Oh, and the Cecil Taylor.

    Hmm, interesting — I’ve just realised that all the BN reissues I have had problems with are primarily piano records…. Probably more revealing of problems than other formats might be?


    • Hi Alun
      possibly, although I think the Hill is especially fine sounding. It has a depth and darkness to the piano that really brings out the brooding nature of what Hill is playing.
      Maybe it’s my ears as I like the Silver as well.


      • Dean, Maybe you just got better copies than I did. Or perhaps you have a better record player. Or better ears. From memory, I tossed the Hill because it looked off-centre and once I spotted that I could never convince myself that it played true (and I don’t think it did). The sound quality, if I’m completely honest, I don;t really remember. The Silver was rather crackly and I found the sound somewhat recessed and generally lifeless.

        The worst of those twofers that I recently had, however, was In Transition, the Cecil Taylor. Now while CT may not be to everyone’s taste, In Transition combines two early-ish records (Jazz Advance and Love for Sale) that have moments of great and gentle beauty and are ‘challenging’ music at all, really. But the sound and pressing was a complete dog’s breakfast. I suspect the original tapes were never anything to write home about but Jazz Advance in particular (with CT’s wonderful take on Monk’s Bemsha Swing and Duke’s Azure) had drop-outs and wavered and wobbled between channels. In fact, listening to it with headphones made me feel vaguely seasick. I replaced it with CDs.

        I suppose find ’em and try ’em is the only sensible advice with these twofers: you may get lucky. I think you did.


  11. I remember that I had 2 “two-fers” – a Milt Jackson, which I seem to remember had hard to read blue writing, and a rather dog-eared double from Horace Silver. Both were sold by me at a car boot sale about 20 years ago with some other discs for £10. the lot. Sad.


  12. Griffin / Coltrane / Mobley “Blowin’ Session” is a good one because while side 1 is the great BLP 1559 “Blowing Session” (popsike mean $500), side 2 is BLP 1549, Jordan and Gilmore’s “Blowing In From Chicago” ($444). That’s a good $1,000 (or more) of killer records in one $20 2-fer.


  13. I bought all of these beige BN re issue 2-fer’s in the ’70’s.

    All the recommendations upthread, LJC + a fugitive number: the T-Bone Walker Imperial Sides, including my favourite monikered blues song:

    “Too Lazy to Work, Too Nervous to Steal”



  14. Hey LJC, thanks for covering these two-fer reissues. I was wondering about the Lee Morgan “The Procrastinator” and the Horace Silver “The Trio Sides.” Anyone have any thoughts on either of these?


  15. I have 4 of the two-fer Blue Note Jazz Classic re-issues.

    1. Freddie Hubbard “Here to Stay”, includes “Hub Cap.”
    2. Lee Morgan “The Procrastinator”, includes “Sonic Boom”.
    3. Jackie Mclean “Hipnosis” and
    4. Jackie Mclean “Jacknife.”

    I remember all of these records were hard to find as single albums back when I started collecting 12 years ago, and is why I brought the two-fers. All inexpensive to own. I went on to get the single album when I found good copies and also added two 45rpm classics to my collection, “The Procrastinator” and “Here to Stay”


  16. Hello LJC,
    Thanks for this!

    Horace Parlan, Happy frame of mind, was also released recently by french label Heavenly Sweetness. Good quality. Excellent music.
    And Johnny Coles, another trumpet player unrecognised.

    Sometimes I don’t understand why some of theses recordings were not released in their times. Mostly are very good material. For example things like Lee Morgan, Tom Cat and Dexter Gordon, THe Clubhouse, two excellent albums.


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