Orrin Keepnews

Orrin Keepnews

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Orrin Keepnews

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Orrin Keepnews (born March 2, 1923 in The Bronx, New York City) is an American writer and jazz record producer. In June 2010, he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Keepnews graduated from Columbia with a degree in English in 1943. Subsequently, he was involved in bombing raids over Japan in the final months of World War II, before returning for graduate studies at Columbia in 1946.

While working as an editor for the book publishers Simon and Schuster, Keepnews moonlighted as editor of The Record Changer magazine after fellow Columbia graduate Bill Grauer became its owner in 1948. In 1952 Grauer and Keepnews produced a series of reissues on RCA Victor's Label "X". The following year the partners founded Riverside Records, which was originally devoted to reissue projects in the traditional and swing jazz idioms.

Pianist Randy Weston was the first modern jazz artist signed by the label, and he helped them to begin paying attention to the current jazz scene. Their most significant early move came in 1955, when they were made aware of the availability of Thelonious Monk, who was able to terminate his contract with Prestige Records and became Riverside's first major artist. From this point, the label concentrated on the burgeoning modern jazz scene. With Keepnews as producer, and adding such significant young artists as Bill Evans, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Wes Montgomery, Johnny Griffin,......
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