Reference: FSRCD 703
Bar code: 8427328607032
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I just heard a tenor who cuts just about everybody, saxophonist Shafi Hadi, then a Charles Mingus sideman, told his boss in the late 50s. He doesnt play just changes; he plays music.
That was Booker Ervin (1930-1970), a hard-blowing Texas tenor whose influences included Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane. But when Mingus hired him after Ervin hit New York in 1958, his huge, blues-inflected sound and personal approach were unmistakeable. The Mingus profile led to his recordings as leader.
In his three earliest, collected here, his sheer force of personality and ideas refreshed the hard bop genre. The Book Cooks and Cookin are solidly swinging dates, full of Ervins strong soloing, with excellent contributions from Zoot Sims and Tommy Flanagan on the first, and Horace Parlan, and Richard Williams on the second; both include bassist George Tucker and Mingus drummer Dannie Richmond. Best of all is Thats It! with Parlan, Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, and a leader in such sublimely powerful form that the hard bop boundaries hardly contained him.
-The Book Cooks
"Booker Ervin's debut as a leader teamed the intense tenor saxophonist with fellow tenor Zoot Sims (one will have little difficulty telling the cool-toned Zoot apart from Booker), trumpeter Tommy Turrentine, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Dannie Richmond. Ervin (who has his ballad "Largo" as a feature) performs five originals and "Poor Butterfly"; best are the slow blues "The Blue Book" and the rapid blues "The Book Cooks."
"Cookin', was the tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin second session as a leader (with a quintet also including trumpeter Richard Williams, pianist Horace Parlan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Dannie Richmond). The session has four Ervin originals plus two standards. The intense tenor, whose sound had roots in early R but was open to the influence of the avant-garde, was instantly recognizable by 1960 and this music, although not essential, has many strong solos by Ervin, Williams and Parlan."
"Booker Ervin, who always had a very unique sound on the tenor, is heard in prime form on his quartet set with pianist Horace Parlan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood. In virtually all cases, the jazz and blues musicians who recorded for Candid in 1960-61 (during its original brief existence) were inspired and played more creatively than they did for other labels. That fact is true for Ervin, even if he never made an indifferent record. In addition to "Poinciana" and "Speak Low," Ervin's quartet (which was a regular if short-lived group) performs four of the leader's originals; best known is "Booker's Blues."
All three reviews by Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)