Booker Ervin Day

October 31, 1930 – August 31, 1970

The distinctive tenor-saxophonist is remembered

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Booker Telleferro Ervin II. was born October 31, 1930 in Denison, Texas.

Originally a trombonist, he switched to tenor while serving in the United States Air Force.

After his discharge in 1953, Ervin attended Berklee, worked in Tulsa with Ernie Fields, and within a few years was ready for the New York scene.

A member of Charles Mingus’ groups off and on during 1958-63, Ervin’s hard and tough tone, which was leavened by his bluish ideas, found its perfect home with Mingus which can be heard on such recordings as Jazz Portraits, Blues and Roots, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty.

Ervin was well featured on his own series of albums including The Freedom Book, The Song Book, The Blues Book and The Space Book.

Ervin also recorded with Teddy Charles, Barbara Long, Mal Waldron, Bill Barron, Horace Parlan, Larry Young, Randy Weston, Roy Haynes, Pony Poindexter, Don Patterson, Jaki Byard, Sonny Stitt, Ted Curson, Andrew Hill and Eric Kloss.

Tragically, Booker Ervin was stricken with kidney disease and died at the age of 39.

Ervin is featured on a stirring version of “Milestones” from the mid-1960s with an all-star group.


Booker Ervin, tenor
Ted Curson, trumpet
Pony Poindexter, alto
Nathan Davis, flute
Kenny Drew, piano
Jimmy Woode, bass
Edgar Bateman, drums

-Scott Yanow


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