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UK jazz label founded by aspiring drummer Carlo Krahmer and Peter Newbrook in 1947. It issued recordings by British musicians, and others under licence, notably from the American Prestige label and its sub-labels New Jazz from the mid-Fifties to early Sixties. These UK issues bear all the detail of the US original master metalwork, including Prestige catalogue numbers and Rudy Van Gelder hallmarking. This is in contrast to London American Jazz recordings and Contemporary Vogue which were mastered the UK by Decca from copy tapes, with their own matrix codes.
Esquire lasted until the mid-1970s. After Carlo’s death Esquire was run by his widow Greta. In the 1980s Newbrook reissued some of the Esquire jazz catalogue in an “Esquire Treasure Chest” series of LPs.
Esquire’s license to distribute Prestige records in the UK ended in the mid Sixties, taken up by Transatlantic, a label founded by music entrepreneur Nat Joseph. Transatlantic pressings are generally very good, mastered in the UK from copy tapes instead of US stampers as previously.
The Esquires are sonically the match of US originals, pressed on 180-220gm vinyl and they never made the mistake of using recycled noisy vinyl as Prestige did in the early Sixties. Their only let down was the sometimes poor graphic design of alternative covers, though once you get your eye attuned, there is a kind of house-style that you feel quite fond of. “Harry Peck” deserves the blame or credit, depending on your point of view.
An inglorious end to a glorious label, an attempt was made in the Seventies through to eighties to revive the label with an “Esquire Treasure Chest” series:
The audio quality is not great, though its hard to know where to pin the blame, as this sample was recorded by label founder Kramer and remastered for this reissue, and impossible to know who pressed it, but it shows no hallmarks of anyone like the majors. The graphic design is worse: an object lesson on how not to sell records. They look very cheap and nasty, though the music can be very good.
Peter Newbrook accumulated many fine jazz records, including his own Esquire releases, and his collection was sold by the family to at least one dealer I came across.
British Library Abstract on Esquire Founder Peter Newbrook (thanks to felixstrange)
Dual interest in film and music recording. Building crystal sets. Musical education. Working at Warner Bros. studios, meeting Monty Berman and developing an interest in jazz; playing vibraphone. Becoming record collector. Meeting Carlo Krahmer in 1938, Krahmer’s career. Making location recording in Birmingham in 1938, Krahmer’s career. Making location recording in Birmingham in 1947 with Krahmer’s Chicagoans and Humphrey Lyttleton and getting record pressed. Stranglehold of major record companies. Getting discs pressed by the British Homophone Co. Selling through mail order. Obtaining rights to Charlie Parker and Errol Garner discs through Blue Star. Getting discs pressed Moving to Decca. Running label as ‘family’ concern from Krahmer’s home. Post-war jazz clubs in London. Signing up new talent. Owing rights to foreign labels. Starting classical series of avant-grade music; pop series and children’s series. Keeping ahead o competition. Working with Blue Star to get round union ban. Cutting discs with Ray Nance and the ‘Ellingtonians’. Recording American musicians during World War II. Esquire’s recognition of the importance of be-bop and modern jazz. Making direct-cut microgroove LP in 1952. Later development of company. The Treasure Chest series and remastering recordings for ‘Living Presence Sound’. Outside recordings. His holdings of released material and Krahmer’s collection. The Esquire organisation. The Starlite label, releasing popular music, rock’n’roll and calypso.
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