Grammy-Winning Jazz Producer Orrin Keepnews Dead At 91
March 2, 2015 at 12:14 PM (PT)
ORRIN KEEPNEWS, a creative force behind some of the greatest jazz recordings ever, passed away yesterday morning one day short of his 92nd birthday in his home at EL CERRITO, CALIFORNIA.
KEEPNEWS produced such seminal albums as BILL EVANS’ "Waltz For Debby" and "Sunday At The Village Vanguard," THELONIOUS MONK’s "Brilliant Corners," "MONK’s Music" and "THELONIOUS MONK and JOHN COLTRANE," CHET BAKER’s "CHET BAKER In NEW YORK," SONNY ROLLINS’ "Freedom Suite," WES MONTGOMERY’s "Boss Guitar," and CLARK TERRY’s "In Orbit."
Born in the BRONX, N.Y., in 1923, KEEPNEWS began his career as a music journalist. As co-founder and producer at RIVERSIDE RECORDS in 1953, he would soon become a staple of the modern jazz scene, producing new works by future jazz giants such as THELONIOUS MONK, WES MONTGOMERY, SONNY ROLLINS and CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, and also become credited for discovering famed jazz pianist BILL EVANS.
KEEPNEWS went on to found the renowned jazz labels MILESTONE (1966) and LANDMARK RECORDS (1985). He was the Dir./Jazz A&R at FANTASY RECORDS in 1972 as well and in more recent years was the producer and annotator of CONCORD MUSIC GROUP’s acclaimed reissues series "KEEPNEWS Collection" beginning in 2007.
CONCORD MUSIC GROUP VP/Catalog Development/A&R NICK PHILLIPS, a close partner and friend of KEEPNEWS, noted, “Many of my absolute favorite recordings in the history of jazz have one thing in common: they were produced by ORRIN KEEPNEWS. What an honor and a privilege it has been to work closely with and learn so much from this musical legend. He will be dearly missed, but the timeless recordings he produced will surely outlive us all.”
“We are grateful for ORRIN’s indelible contributions to jazz and our company,” stated CONCORD MUSIC GROUP Pres./CEO GLEN BARROS. “CONCORD’s historic, world-class jazz catalog was cultivated in no small measure by his extraordinary work and pioneering vision.”
KEEPNEWS’ five GRAMMY Awards include the prestigious TRUSTEES AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT, bestowed by the RECORDING ACADEMY in 2004. He also received the distinguished NEA JAZZ MASTERS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD in the field of jazz from the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS in 2011.
In addition to his wife MARTHA EGAN, KEEPNEWS' survivors include sons DAVID and PETER, the latter an editor at the NEW YORK TIMES.