Booker Ervin Biography

31 October 1930, Denison, Texas, USA, d. 31 August 1970, New York City, New York, USA. As a child, Ervin played trombone but switched to tenor saxophone in the early 50s during his military service. (He led his own small group when he was stationed on Okinawa.) After returning to civilian life, Ervin studied at Berklee College Of Music under Joe Viola, then worked with Ernie Fields’ R&B band and several jazz groups in the south-west. A move to New York in 1958 brought him into a long-standing if irregular association with Charles Mingus that continued into the mid-60s. He recorded extensively with Mingus and Randy Weston and also with his own groups. A powerful player, Ervin’s style demonstrates his awareness of such diverse tenor saxophonists as the Texas tenor school (his father played trombone with Buddy Tate’s band), Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, but he chose to follow a different star and remained very much his own man. His warm approach to ballads and searing attack on up-tempo numbers showed him to be a much hotter player than most of his contemporaries. His death in 1970 came while he was still very much in his prime.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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