He played with Charles Mingus a bunch; he’s got a very hard, brash tenor sax sound, coming from a setup that used a very narrow metal mouthpiece with a fairly pliant reed– he sounds like Don Byas 15 year later– and from Texas. Coltrane if he were more lyrical, a bit less sharp, and more traditional in his approach to melody and accompaniment. Again, basically Don Byas if he were younger.
I like his “books” series of records the best– they were called, chronologically, The Freedom Book (hard bop), The Song Book (standards), The Blues Book (I-IV-V), and The Space Book (the most “out there” of the four, but still “in,” see below). They were some very nice sessions, recorded through Prestige records from 1963 thru 1966.
There are also some early works that I really like, like “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” and “Well, well.” [See video, below.]
Want some late-period Ervin, like Tex Book Tenor? Getchu some “204,” if you want an introduction to that album– an album where the “new thing,” usually called “free jazz,” was coming into being, and you could tell that despite his background in Texas, blues-based, gutbucket, bartop-strutting indoctrination and love as a player, he really wanted to just lose it and get outer and outer as a player– you can practically feel his childlike enthusiasm for the new thing– but that Texas in him is still, somehow, stronger than that– and lets him flirt, over and over again, with free jazz, but still always sound like the Texas hard bop purveyor he is.
Plus, I love the fact that he always looks like a blerd, and yet has this hard, aggressive, full tenor sound and manner of playing and making melodies. Texas sax nerds from hell, so to speak.
Ha! I’m funny. Anyway, if you need a single tune from Booker get “No Booze Blooze,” here on Amazon. If you need an embed of another good tune, but one on this very page, check this out: