Saturday, July 19, 2008
Jazz Library 9: Book Making with Booker Ervin
One of the joys of jazz collecting is to discover some well-documented jazzman whom one has never heard of, but whose music sounds like it should rank with the elder gods of bop. I posted a while back on Booker Ervin, when I had just heard his recording That's It! I found Ervin while thumbing through the Jazz Nerd's Bible, The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings. That's It! is a fine disc, very accessible, straightforward bop. Booker was a frequent sideman for Charles Mingus, who apparently thought very highly of him and compared him to Eric Dolphy. Mingus was right.
In 1963 and 64 Ervin recorded a number of superb discs that ought to be part of every serious jazz collection. He made it easy for us to spot them at this distance in time by their titles: Song Book, Blues Book, Freedom Book, and Space Book. Based on the names alone, the collector will suspect he is looking at a coherent set, and he wouldn't be wrong. All four recordings feature Richard Davis on bass, and Alan Dawson on drums. One of my personal favorites, Tommy Flanagan, plays piano on Song Book, while Jaki Byard is at the keyboard on Space Book and Freedom Book. This was a marvelous project. As you might guess, Song Book is the most accessible of the four. The rest are very adventurous jazz, of the kind that Dolphy is famous for. But everyone is worth listening to over and over.
Here is a sample from Song Book.