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."
In some ways tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin was the archetypal jazz player for the post-bop 1960s, combining the tradition of Texas sax with just the hint of edgy modernism, a sort of the Delta-meets-Morocco sound so accessible that it is easy to miss the chances Ervin took with his music. Although his career was short (cancer claimed him in the summer of 1970 when he was just shy of his 40th birthday), Ervin still managed to record some 20 albums as a frontman, most notably his "book" series, The Song Book, The Blues Book, The Space Book, and this fine session, The Freedom Book, which finds him working with a rhythm section of Jaki Byard…
Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin joined alto and soprano saxophonist Pony Poindexter in 1963 on Gumbo, based around the sights and sounds of Poindexter's birthplace, the Crescent City. Poindexter penned the majority of these compositions, providing them with evocative titles of the city: "Creole Girl," "French Market," and "Gumbo Filet." Gumbo finds Ervin playing more straight-ahead than on his exploratory "Book" sessions, which he had begun recording under his name by this time.
Booker Ervin headed to Blue Note in 1968 for The In Between, a record that found him continuing in the vein of his later Prestige sessions. Supported by trumpeter Richard Williams, pianist Bobby Few, bassist Cevera Jeffries and drummer Lennie McBrowne, Ervin created an album that pushed the boundaries of hard bop. Every song on The In Between is an Ervin original designed to challenge the musicians.