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Our creative community has lost an American treasure, and his legacy will serve as a potent reminder of the importance of one of our nation’s most original art forms.
—NARAS chief Neil Portnow

REMEMBERING ORRIN

Keepnews Was a Force in the Development and Chronicling of Jazz

ORRIN KEEPNEWS, the legendary producer, label exec and chronicler of jazz whose learned and stylish prose adorned the pages of music journals and the covers of many of the form's signature recordings, died at his California home this weekend, just a day before his 92nd birthday.

Keepnews co-founded the Riverside records in 1953, providing a home for and producing such artsts as Thelonious Monk as well as Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and Charlie Byrd. He served as an A&R exec at Fantasy before founding Landmark Records, which released albums by Yusef Lateef and the Kronos Quartet, among other trailblazers.

Keepnews was also an invaluable presence at NARAS. Academy chief Neil Portnow released this statement today:

"Four-time GRAMMY® winner and Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient Orrin Keepnews was one of jazz’s greatest advocates whose passion and enthusiasm for the music led him to help create some of the most noteworthy recordings in the genre. A jazz journalist and album notes writer, he ultimately would become a record executive and producer of some of the most quintessential recordings by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, and Cannonball Adderley, among others.

His attention to detail and his genuine love of jazz music earned him the respect of musicians, and for seven decades he devoted his life to every aspect of the genre — whether in the studio, in the marketplace, or through his writings.

Additionally, Orrin’s longstanding service to The Recording Academy as an elected leader was indispensable to our organization. Our creative community has lost an American treasure, and his legacy will serve as a potent reminder of the importance of one of our nation’s most original art forms.

Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, his friends, and all those who share his commitment to keep jazz an ever-present and thriving part of our culture."