Prestige/ New Jazz: Esquire UK vs.Victor Japan

Alternative pressing comparisons round II: London vs. Tokyo

Compare The Pressing subject: New Jazz 8210 Roy Haynes Trio “We Three”

Roy-Haynes-we-three-Esquire-and-Victor-covers-1800-LJC

Artists

Phineas Newborn (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Roy Haynes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 14, 1958 ; released as New Jazz NJLP 8210

The comparison

Meerkat_Beanie-and-cansGuest MC VeeGee Minus, now of The Hackney and Shoreditch East End DJ Collective (washing up rota – Tuesdays), makes a welcome return to LJC, taking on the turntable duties for this  CompareThePressing spot.

VeeGee has been asked to spin two overseas releases of this Prestige New Jazz title . Not the US original New Jazz, but  the UK first release from 1959 by Esquire Records (same mastering and metal as the US original) ,  compared with the similarly mono Japanese Victor reissue manufactured twenty years later in 1979. London vs. Tokyo:  tuck into the raw sea urchin rice bowl, wash it down down with a pint of best bitter.

Track Choice:

My choice, the jaunty swinger Reflection written by pianist Ray Bryant, given the signature snap crackle backbeat treatment by Roy Haynes, with Phineus Newborn’s usual sparkling piano  licks, Paul Chambers solid as always. I love this track, but who offers it up best?

Van Gelder recording at home in Hackensack, 1958, captures the ride cymbal and hi hat, the transients of the piano notes, the tuneful bass. Does the groove survive in these British and Japanese pressings? In one better than the other? Does the trio swing, drawing you in, or does your attention wander to thoughts of updating your Facebook page?

hyams-jake-11[1]Selection: Esquire 32-103 UK release, 1959

Vinyl: UK Esquire  pressed, as usual, with metalwork supplied from the US by Prestige. Heavyweight doesn’t describe this vinyl. At 246 grams, the heaviest known at LJC, enough to make two copies of the Victor.

Sumo-squareSelection: Victor Japan, 1979 Featherweight at only 119 grams, but does it punch above it’s weight? Japanese silky pressing from Victor, and you can’t fail to notice the cover is of the Prestige original, Mr Chambers a full head and shoulders above his fellow musicians. Ahead on points on the cover alone. But the vinyl is no slouch.

Unfortunately, I have no original Prestige New Jazz copy to establish the original as a baseline. However these are both mono, whilst my other Victor doubles are mono vs stereo, and my Walt Dickerson New Jazz  titles are evil recycled vinyl)   The Esquire should be pretty closely matched to the sound of the original New Jazz, coming from the same metalwork with Van Gelder mastering.

The verdict: VeeGee Minus says:

Judge-MeerkatsThis is really tough to compare! It’s a stonking piece of music, and both the Victor and Esquire do a stonking job. (stonking. British colloquial: Impressive, wonderful). Listening on the big system I felt the Esquire had the edge, but on the 160kbs rips, I feel the Victor has the edge. LJC says orginal is best and it’s his blog, but I is da judge. I call it a draw. (Do I get to keep the wig?)

LJC says Another unpredictable result. I fully expected the Esquire to wipe the floor with the Victor, but things don’t always turn out as you expect. That is the whole point of A:B testing: reality check: Victor have done a great job, which I hadn’t fully appreciated.  According to the label, the Victor was produced/copyrighted 1979, if I read that right, so it falls within my definition of vintage vinyl, there shouldn’t be any digital part in the production chain, so some honour is preserved.

Roy-Haynes-we-three-Esquire-and-Victor-labels--1800-LJC

Roy-Haynes-we-three-Esquire-and-Victor-rear-covers--1800-LJC

 Collectors Corner

LJC-bowler-hat-umberella-fastshow14Prestige are a pain in the proverbial for a British collector. US original pressings rarely appear because of the UK licensees Esquire and Transatlantic. Sourcing originals from US sellers is double jeopardy – gambling the seller’s grading meets your expectations, high  postal cost from the States – and the cost of posting it back if you need to return it – and the hazard of UK Customs wanting a bite too.

On the positive side, European editions avoid Weinstock’s unforgivable use of recycled vinyl for some Prestige/ New Jazz pressings. (He knew, and if he says he didn’t, he should have). Though I generally stick up for Esquire editions  –  their track record is strong –  I am surprised by the quality of this alternative from Japan’s Victor. I have a half dozen vintage Victors on the shelf, and have never consciously rated them because I had never A:B’d them purposefully like this.

Maybe because of Blue Notes high profile among collectors, King and Toshiba Japanese pressings get more exposure. I guess I just missed the alternatives to Prestige beyond Esquire. Victor get my thumbs up. Well worth a listen, though I still prefer the Esquire, push come to shove..

Thanks for the comparison suggestion, Charlie.

LJC

16 thoughts on “Prestige/ New Jazz: Esquire UK vs.Victor Japan

  1. great record that i discovered here when you reviewed the esquire Lp then became an instant classic for me. i indulged in a 80’s (almost vintage!) French New Jazz copy that sounds good enough to get involved in the music but mots probably lacks the magic of the OG’s. btw, how do you rate the STATUS imprints of prestige?

  2. Also, Phineas Newborn is one of the most underrated in the business. Try “Here is Phineas Newborn” on Atlantic and “A World of Piano” on Contemporary for starters.

  3. Both sound really great! Victor definitely knew what they were doing. I would be very happy with either and may in fact look out for this Victor pressing and others. The comparison is appreciated.

  4. on PC with DAC and Audeze headphones (amazing planar headphones). Esquire wins, more punch and drive, fully agree with vinylzone. Victors are nice, good quality but too polite. I generally tend to prefer the Esquires to original Prestige and New Jazz despite the ugly covers. Nicer vinyl.

    Re US Contemporary vs UK Vogue vs Jap, there the US ones appear best. Arguably, Contemporary were the best sounding records of that era. And they used good quality vinyl. I have done a few comparisons between the three (Cecil Taylor Looking Ahead; Art Pepper meets the Rhythm Section and some others) and the US Contemporary’s are great.

    With Prestige/New Jazz, often the UK ones are better (not always) and with Atlantic, the Decca pressed London records are almost always superior. Funny world

    • I agree that Contemporary records sonics are great, in my opinion more natural sounding tonally than Blue Notes from an audiophile point of view. Contemporary is a little under the radar because it was a west coast label and Blue Note is, well, Blue Note

  5. This is a tricky one. The Esquire has more clarity. But in keeping with most of ones I have it sounds a little drier with less reverb and warmth than the Japanese. I’d take the Esquire but I’d also be interested to compare the OJC vinyl and CD in with these as again I’m looking to buy this album in some format or other but preferably vinyl.
    Some of my OJC vinyl/CDs sound very nice.
    Esquire on ebay is too expensive but it does turn up at a more reasonable cost in my LRS.

  6. Koss earphones on PC.
    The Vicor has more air/decay on intruments but as vinylzone says the sound has some serious compression – it sound like levels go up and down.

    LJC – you don’t compress in the mp3 making process?

    I would also stick my chin out to say that the same track in Spotify (stereo) sounds better than both rips ;-(

    • The rip outputs are MP3 at the default, 160kbps from the Numark, I don’t do anything to them because I wouldn’t know how.
      (I plan to have another go getting output from “Big Sista” now I have acquired a laptop which allows me to get computing physically close – once I figure how to turn off its internal mic. When I last tried it mixed output from the TT with chatter in the room. Windows 8, hate it. )

  7. Hi LJC,

    Thank you for this wonderful site, I really enjoy it a lot!

    I am listening to the Esquire/Victor rips on my PC through a pair of Fostex 6301B active monitor loudspeakers, and the Esquire has much more punch, dynamics, clarity and authentic original Prestige/New Jazz 1st Pressing/RVG sound. I have many original US Prestige and New Jazz records, and their sound is very similar to the Esquire. The Victor pressing sounds more muddy and compressed on my system, and the piano lacks this beautiful punch and attack found on an RVG mastered record.

    Cheers!

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