Another UK Esquire and an Audiophile Question

Back with another Esquire Prestige to start with, if you will all kindly indulge my new obsession: Donald Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Gene Quill, Phil Woods, Pairing Off, Esquire 32-026. This is an original UK pressing listed in VG+ condition for both the record and the cover. It’s a another cool cover, IMHO, illustrating the instruments of the two sets of pairs, the trumpeters and altoists. It’s quite a bit different than the U.S. version, which was released as a session led by Phil Woods. Bidding is in the $120 range with more than a day left on the auction.

Here’s a nice one: Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’, Blue Note 1588. This is an original West 63rd Street pressing that looks to be in VG+ condition for the record and probably VG++ for the cover. This one is now in the $1,260 range, but I would expect the final price to be much higher, as this is a record we’ve often seen sell for much more, even in less than perfect condition.

This one caught my eye because it’s not something I normally collect: Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-002. This is a sealed copy using something called an Ultrasonic one-step cutting process, which I can surely Google to find out more information, but it also sounds something like marketing hype, so I will pose the question to our readers who may have more information and interest in these new types of issues: Does it sound different/better than the original? I have my doubts, but I am open and would even consider buying a copy of the record, since it is a favorite, although the price is getting up there. This one is already at more than $200 with another day left.



  • I have both the original pressing and the Mofi Bill Evans. The Mofi is two 45 rpm discs and does sound pretty amazing however I don’t think it’s necessary if you have an original. I would recommend the Mofi to someone who doesn’t have the original and doesn’t want to join the $1000.00 club for one! Also switching speeds on my turntable requires the removal of the platter and moving the belt which for a lazy person such as myself tends to be too much work 🙂

  • Having hung out in both camps–jazz first pressings and the audiophile equipment world–I would say that these recordings can sound awesome if the original tapes were used and in great shape and if the transfer was done right. However, at some point you need really good (i.e., expensive equipment) to hear some of the differences. Lots of audiophiles can’t stand ANY surface noise so they generally don’t buy original pressings. Layer in that finding a stone mint copy of Sunday at the Village Vanguard is not going to happen, and now you understand why someone might pay $300 to not only hear the glasses tinkle on the table, but to determine whether the contents of the glass was a Cutty Sark and Soda or Canadian Club.

  • For those of you who consider bidding on the Esquire records I have the following advise.Take a good look at the covers,in most cases the lamination is bubbling or even peeling off.I have won two Esquire’s on “vinyl- house- uk”,and one of them has two small tears in the cover and serious delamination.The Esquire-label is “in the lift” and therefor prices are in most cases( Coltrane, Rollins ,Miles) ridiculous high.An advantage is the superb Decca-pressings and exceptional sound quality.

  • I found those Mo Fi reissues covers absolutely ugly. Will never have it on my shelves. How can you pretend to restore sound purity and at the same time waist such a marvelous cover design ?

  • I love this Village Vanguard session, for me it is the best jazz live recording ever and I’ve been waiting long time for an audiophile pressing as all my Riverside originals had/have various quality issues, even those that looked pristine (both mono and stereo). My MSFL copy sounds great, sound fidelity at the level of the first press but free from tics, crackle and other background noises. However I agree with Michel, the cover is ugly, no idea why they decided to put it in this large black frame and add golden print …

  • While not at the level of the originals, the OJC pressings of the Vanguard and Waltz for Debby LPs are pretty good. I’ve play-compared them against the originals, and they do surprisingly well. Obviously not as good, but reasonable subtitutes for $20.

  • I’ve heard it and compared it to the recent AP Evans box and an ojc. We didn’t have an original copy unfortunately. The mofi was the winner, but just barely. It was a hair better than the AP and a good step better than the ojc. Not sure if it was really worth the $100 price though. Nothing ultrasonic about it, the eBay seller was confused. Ultrasonic is a cleaning process.

  • Decca had some great sounding early recordings. John Graas lab recordings are quite special, and I stumbled onto those because a couple of them had Art Pepper on them. 🙂

  • I am sure Esquires were not mastered by Decca, unlike the Coral, Contemporary, World Pacific, Riverside, Atlantic labels, to name a few, which were mastered by Decca and issued in the U.K. on the Vogue, London and Decca labels.
    Esquire used Prestige (and Transition) masters, flown in directly from the U.S.
    I don’t know which U.K. pressing plant was used by Esquire, but I don’t see any reference or similitude to U.K. Decca pressings.

  • I understand Esquire used Oriole and Decca pressing plants in UK. A propos of nothing, went to fascinating talk a few years back where British Library people talked about the collection they had from the estate of Carlo Krahmer, the blind founder of Esquire. Essentially he had recorded methodically absolutely anything jazz related on English radio (bbc) from the 40s onwards. Some of the extracts played were fascinating (eg Stan Tracey on accordion).

  • I misremembered slightly, the collection was from Peter Newbrook, co founder of Esquire, but I think the tapes were made by Carlo Krahmer. Hope you don’t mind this diversion into obscure British jazz matters! More information on the British Library website

  • Al, I really appreciate the exploration outside of 1st Edition Blue Notes. While I know little of Mobile Fidelity process and products, I know my “tubed-amp for each channel/separate power line to the house/turntable pre-amp/bought four cartridges to figure out the best one” friends have praised their vinyl for quite a while. Keep up the great work!

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