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Booker Ervin


Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin possessed one of the warmest and emotionally expressive tones in Jazz. He first reached a wide audience in 1958, when he began playing with the great bassist Charles Mingus. Ervin played on some of Mingus' greatest recordings, including the seminal LP Mingus Ah Um. In 1960, Ervin began recording as a bandleader. His outings were the requisite mixture of standards and originals, and the arrangements were fairly straightforward Hard Bop. What was special about Ervin was his tone and range of expression. He could play up-tempo numbers and ballads with equal passion and fire. His tone contained within it a deep, mournful and almost vocal cry, and his sense of melody was steeped in the blues. Ervin was a much-loved presence on the Jazz scene; upon his death in 1970, his collaborator and friend Horace Parlan recorded a moving memorial album for him.

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