ORRIN KEEPNEWS – Rewarding footage of producer Orrin Keepnews on YouTube. Keepnews talks us through some of the legends and landmark albums that he produced for the Riverside label. Keepnews, who passed away on March 1, 2015, ran Riverside from 1953 to 1965 together with Bill Grauer. A curmudgeon of the old school of independent record producers, the streetwise, Bronx-born Keepnews personified the ‘just do it’ mentality long before a Greek God sold shoes to the new kids on the block. With impeccable taste and a responsive spirit, Keepnews boosted the career of Thelonious Monk, produced contemporary greats like Sonny Rollins and Bill Evans, as well as released celebrated albums by a host of soulful modern jazz luminaries like Cannonball Adderley, Bobby Timmons, Johnny Griffin and Blue Mitchell.
Following the passing of Bill Grauer in 1963, Riverside went bankrupt. After freelancing for a few years, Keepnews started the Milestone label in 1966, releasing albums by Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and Ron Carter, among others.
Find a detailed obit in the New York Times here.
With the release of the Keepnews Collection in 2007, a series of re-issues of classic Riverside albums, Bret Primack of Concord Music Group presented a number of short features on Keepnews. Insightfully and with deadpan wit, the producer looks back upon a number of game-changing, fabled cooperations. A treat!
The list of classic Riverside (and the Jazzland subsidiary) recordings is imposing. Here are my favorites: