Miles Davis “Cookin’ ” (1956)


Track Selection: “My Funny Valentine”


Miles Davis (tp) John Coltrane (ts) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, October 26, 1956


I had been Workin’, Diggin’, and Relaxin’ with Miles and Coltrane for some time. All that remained of the four “missingg” series in my collection was Cookin’. Judge the quality of the Cookin’ for yourself.

Standout tracks include an initially  tender then swinging rendition of “My Funny Valentine”, which according to Ira Gitler’s liner notes was the tune’s first recorded performance by Miles. Miles muted trumpet picks out the tune with great economy.  Coltrane sits this one out and it is left to Red Garland to deliver a delicate but delicious piano solo, with Paul Chambers stepping beyond “walking” to explore the melody. “Great!”.


The low catalogue number 32-048 (PRLP 7094) dates it as a mid-to-late Fifties pressing. Hallmark RVG mastered, mono, very heavy 220 gm vinyl in the UK to a standard no different to original Prestige. A little occasional low-level surface noise almost adds to the charm, stepping back in time away from the austere purity of modern playback.

 Collectors Corner

Sitting in a large collection of Miles on eBay, an UK Esquire copy of Cookin’ appeared. It attracted enough interest to push the price up to £45, but these UK releases of Prestige titles are often quite sought after, with the most desirable titles going into three-figure territory.

The only downside of UK Esquires is the usually very basic alternative cover, but uniquely, Cookin’ was among the few Esquires which adopt the original US cover by Reid Miles, Blue Note’s graphic designer. A very tasty dish for a change, all for 37 shillings nine and a half pence precisely (local taxes and service not included)

7 thoughts on “Miles Davis “Cookin’ ” (1956)

  1. LJC, this is very interesting. A recent comment on my blog related to my NJ pressing of this album led me here. I’m quite surprised that both the Esquire and Metronome copies of this album have RVG in the dead wax! Must we conclude that Van Gelder mastered these in the US and that the lacquers were shipped overseas for manufacturing in the UK and Europe? This is the first time I’ve heard of this, is it common with Esquires and Metronomes? I’m going to check your Prestige guide now. 🙂

    • Dgm, all 150-odd Esquires (bar a couple – the Parker and The Prez) are pressed with US Prestige supplied stampers. As well as RVG stamp, etch, and even one VAN GELDER, most but by no means all also have a give-away “AB” etch at 12:00, metal supplied by Abbey Manufacturing. Esquires are “authentic Prestige” pressings, believe pressed with US metal for Esquire at Decca New Malden (common inner bags, similarities in pressing rings)

      Swedish Metronome operated the same system, as I believe did the Italian Musica Depositato and French Barclay and Dutch Artone. The joy of these is they sidestep the New Jazz tainted vinyl issue.

      Distribution by US stamper has been found on Italian Impulse, on Voce Del Patrone, Blues and The Abstract Truth – RVG.

      Yrup has a story to tell.

  2. My Cookin’ Esquire has the AB code in the dead wax. Does this indicate that they used the US stampers for this one? Sounds marvellous, just like the other early Miles Equires

    • 32-048, like most of Miles Davis Esquires, went through two pressings, distinguished by the different rate of recommended retail price applicable during each pressing (37/9d and 39/7d), and a different method of jacket construction:
      I can’t be sure but it is possible that different metalwork was supplied for each pressing, perhaps one was Abbey, the other by someone else. The other possibility is I have overlooked the AB – sometimes it is written in a very small hand and right next to the label. I can’t check right now. I’d be interested to know if the jacket on your copy is the 37/9d as above, or the 39/7d.

      • I have three Davis Esquires. All three were 37/9 1/2d (which to me is gobbledegook as I came to London after the metric system was introduced). The Cookin’ and Walkin’ have the AB stamp. The Relaxin’ has the RVG stamp but is without the AB marking. It would be interesting to compare the AB with the non-AB’s. It doesn’t seem that the US metals were the cheaper versions. They all sound astonishingly good, clear, powerful and incredibly fresh. Sonically easily as good as early Blue Note’s to my ears

        • Interesting.
          The lower price 37/9 is the second pressing, the higher price edition 39/7 is the first . The recommended retail price reflects a reduction in the level of purchase tax at the time. Records were categorised as “luxury” goods so tax made up a fair amount of the cost of a record. All politicians love fiddling with taxes.
          AFAIK Esquire Prestige recordings are pressed with US stampers (there may be a few exceptions : 32-157 Charlie Parker The Bird is Free is a Decca master, matrix code ZX LP1 but not Prestige) They should all sound terrific, whether AB or not, as Decca made a first class pressing out of US metal. Pity metal transfer wasn’t used by others, but copy tape.

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