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…
According to prevailing modern jazz wisdom, when one locked horns with altoist-tenor player Sonny Stitt (1924-1982), one had to be armed to the teeth with licks. Booker Ervin (1930-1970), whose tenor saxophone cry was among the most urgent sounds of the post-to-free-bop era, was solely on the basis of that sound, more than equal to the task of jamming with Stitt. Backed expertly by organist Don Patterson (1936-1988), who had worked extensively with Stitt, Soul People (which also includes a previously unreleased Patterson feature, the mellow bossa reading of “There Will Never Be Another You”) is a consistently rewarding set.
Recorded on December 3, 1963, The Freedom Book is a near perfect set of modern hard bop, ranging just far enough out there to feel fresh but retaining a strong lifeline to bop tradition. Highlights of the session include an impressive Ervin original, "A Lunar Tune," a fine version of Randy Weston's "Cry Me Not," the deliberately strident "Al's In," and another Ervin composition, the moving "A Day to Mourn," an emotionally charged ballad written after the assassination of JFK. The bonus track, an interesting and brief treatment of Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight," a piece strongly associated with Charlie Parker, was recorded at the Freedom Book session but was originally released on the album Groovin' High. It fits perfectly here, capping off a wonderful album.
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Performance (Quartet) 1979 is a live album by American composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton recorded in Switzerland in 1979 and released on the hatART label. The album has also been issued as Performance 9/1/79 and Performance for Quartet.