Roy Haynes: We Three (1958) UK Esquire


Selection 1: Reflection (Bryant)

Selection 2: Sneakin’ Around (Bryant)


Phineas Newborn (p) Paul Chambers (b) Roy Haynes (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 14, 1958

Year: 1958, The Cold War rages on.


  • 1958 March 11,  U.S. B-47 bomber accidentally drops an atom bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Without a nuclear warhead fitted, it nevertheless destroys a house and injures several people. South Carolina immediately offers to surrender, but unsure to whom.


After Ayler’s  free jazz pushing back the boundaries of sonic exploration, a return to more conventional musical space, in which melody, harmony and rhythm combine with skilful improvisation, exploration within the tune rather than outer space.

We Three is nominally Roy Haynes’ record but it is Newborn’s session, with elegant  lead lines interwoven with dazzling figures and cascades. Supported by Haynes and Chambers, accompanists who can hold their own, Newborn  confidently takes the lead, raising the bar way above a hotel-lobby piano trio. However in Selection one, Haynes rhythmic attack on the beat is nothing short of riveting. There are a lot of repetitive drum samples around today, but Haynes on the beat is truly “percussive”

The tunes I return to are those written by Ray Bryant, who had a knack for memorable distinctive melodies and changes, a perfect platform on which Newborn proceeds to elaborate and extend, putting weight on Bryant’s attractive structures.

Phineus Newborn deserved greater recognition but was handicapped by his abundant talent – not suited to the confines of mere accompaniment but not a leader in the league of Bud Powell or Bill Evans. I put him along side the likes of Hampton Hawes:  someone special, who swings, and always makes for satisfying listening. Like many talented musicians of the time, his recording career was sadly short.

The Cover:

The less said about the Esquire cover the better. Cue usual suspects: No, no, I really like it! Three piano keys double as a metaphor for a trio of musicians, exploiting generous use of white space, ambivalent between background and its insinuation of white piano keys as foreground, it has an endearing retro feel that places it firmly in, whenever it was, I forget…

271022994545[1]The original Prestige New Jazz cover is full of warmth and personality, though it might have been tactful of the photographer to offer Roy and Phineus a couple of chairs to stand on, gosh, isn’t Chambers tall.

The cover design is an exemplar of the composition “rule of thirds”, quite appropriate to a trio, and the picture answers the unspoken question, who are  “We Three”.  We are not the Three Green Rectangles according to Esquire. This is who we are.

Vinyl: Esquire 32-103  – UK release of US New Jazz NJLP8210  – RVG master

A monster 246 gm  heavyweight, heaviest vinyl in the entire collection. One to challenge the VTR setting. Sonically, superb.



Source: Ebay

Sellers Description:

Original UK Esquire Records 32-103 (1958) Mono pressing

LAMINATED FLIP-BACK SLEEVE: VG (general age-wear, spine/seam-wear, corner dinks, small biro mark/sticker residue to back cover ), VINYL (Goldmine Grading): Shiny VG+ (heavyweight vinyl)

Scarce stunning rare Jazz set on the sought after ‘Esquire’ Label!

Envy rating 2A nice Haynes/Newborn record, and as Esquire are good to find, in themselves, rare.

smug-index-3-I’m smug because I have had a Japanese press for some years and the Esquire wipes the floor with it. 245 gm, one mother**** as Miles would have said.

cool-1Piano trios are not considered especially cool, with the exception of Bill Evans and possibly Brad Meldhau (yikes, a leap into the 21st Century LJC!!)

Takes my Esquire collection up another notch, and despite those covers, it’s still a good way to collect “original” New Jazz  and US Prestige releases.

23 thoughts on “Roy Haynes: We Three (1958) UK Esquire

  1. I was recently given a copy of this great record 🙂 This is my only original new jazz title, my others are ojc reissues. I’m wondering if my copy is a true first pressing. It has deep groove both sides, side 2 also has a recessed area around the spindle hole. It is a purple label and has the RVG stamps. $3.98 is printed on the back upper left corner. Any information would be appreciated 🙂

    • The price of $ 3.98 printed on the back makes this an authentic first pressing, given the other elements you mention. Later on the list price of N.J. albums became $ 4.98.

        • Savoy’s budget label Regent also had a list price of $ 3.98, but this price was not mentioned (printed or sticker) on the sleeve. New Jazz discontinued the practice around its 18th issue (N.J. 8218). After 8218 I have not noted the $ 3.98 price sticker. Very often unscrupulous merchants tried to remove the stickers, in order to sell at the regular $ 4.98 price. I have sleeves which are damaged as a result. I think this is the reason why New Jazz stopped the practice of stickering.

  2. A staple in my rotation. I think the photo is classic and the cover design is perfect. My New Jazz pressing sounds terrific (no recycled vinyl – hooray!) Poor Phineas – he was almost TOO good, could not handle his own genius. The liner notes are telling – Cannonball compliments Phineas after a show and Phineas responds “thanks, I’ve been playing less.” That anecdote makes me more sad than anything. While it takes guts to show restraint of genius, it must be extremely difficult when you are so gifted (a problem I personally have never encountered!)

    • There is a wonderfully moving piece about Phineas in Stanley Booth’s book “Rhythm Oil”.

      Stanley, like Phineas is from Memphis, and the piece describes the state the pianist was in in the mid seventies, and an attempt to get him recording again.

      As an aside in Memphis his name is pronounce Fine-us. I was chatted with someone from the town who kept saying ‘Fine-Us’ and it took me about ten minutes to work out who he was talking about!

  3. No Mehldau records have made it to vinyl. Apparently, his dynamic duet with Mark Giuiliana will make it to vinyl, they are recording at the moment. Live extremely cool, with Mehldau going electronic

    • I’ll look out for it. Meldhau is the only modern I listen to nowadays, on Evil Silver Disk. . His Trio Live at the Village Vanguard interpretation of Wonderwall has me eating my words for all three courses. Black Sun is sublime also, but in truth Jeff Ballard is the real star for me.

      If his duo makes it to vinyl I’ll watch for it, though electric piano may be a bridge too far. I tend to choke on electric instruments.

  4. is weight in itself a mark of audio quality? I noticed that Esquire started to use this superweight roughly from 32-090 to 32-110. But these presinngs were not better than the less heavy pressings produced ante 32-090, which were quieter (less background noise). On the cover “design” all has been said. The Esmond Edwards 8210 sleeve is a real beauty.

    • You are quite right, Rudolf, there is no audible difference arising as a result of vinyl weight. I believe the depth of cut is set at mastering, and from that moment on it doesn’t matter if its pressed on 250 or 150 gram, or probably even 100 gram. I just rejoice in the sheer weightiness of them, the extravagance of the quantity of the artefact. It not like you can have a “heavy CD”, can you. Its unashamedly analog, flaunting it.

      Interestingly it bears a stamped EX in the runout, the second I have seen, and it is not Abbey AB manufactured stamper. No idea what or who it means, but I think its a factory stamp not an engineers initials. X is sort of an unusual letter to start a surname.

      • EX: that must be an Esquire marker. My NJ 8210 has the stamped RVG and hand-etched NJ 8210-A resp. NJ 8210-B. Then on side A it has a single B stamped and on side B a single stamped A. AB quand-même?

        • I don’t have a count to hand but around a third to a half of my Esquires have a small hand written AB on both sides, at around the 12 o’clock position, usually though not always close to the label. (I’ll do a proper tally when home from France)

          It is also found on some original Prestige – here

          And on a Dutch Artone pressing

          And this Swedish Metronome

          AB is I believe the mark of Abbey Manufacturing, Newark, NJ

          I think I think Prestige (and hence New Jazz) were promicscuous in their choice of pressing plants, unlike Blue Note, and a proportion of the work went through Abbey. It is coincidental that records have an A and a B side, and that Abbey used AB as their signature.

          Because it is found on some Prestige as well as Esquire, Artone and Metronome I assume it originates from US metalwork – fand I assume Abbey. Abbey pressed some records for Prestige and their metalwork went to Decca in UK who pressed the Esquire with them. I got no other explanation, could be completely wrong.

          The EX may be a third party marking, but I have only seen it on one other Esquire.

          I am open to all explanations! I know nothing!

          • I love piano trios and “We Three” is an absolute marvel. On the evil silver disk, of course, but still.

            On the AB etchings: I have two Prestiges with the same AB in their trail off groove close to the label and in one case partially pressed into the label: Thelonious Monk Quintets PRLP-7053 (photos HERE) and Django, Modern Jazz Quartet PRLP-7057 (photos HERE) – make sure to watch in slide show mode.

            So far I’ve always lived by the Abbey story, since it was here when I learned about it 😉

            • Gee Mattyman, what a lovely copy you have got of # PrLp 7053 and 7057. Both are essentials in the Prestige catalogue. i loved the slide show, very well done. You have noticed that at places there is also a lost A somewhere in the dead wax, which not related to side A or B. A first pressing? B exists too.

  5. Sometimes there is a thin dividing line between brilliance and inanity – after careful consideration over a period of several seconds I have decided that this cover is deffo in the latter category.

    • As for sheer ugliness of cover design, Esquire takes rank with a label that starts with “S” and ends in “avoy”…

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