The story of East Coast jazz in the post-war era very largely revolves around three legendary New York based independents: Prestige, Blue Note, and Riverside. This four-CD set traces the history of the one that, in the words of Orrin Keepnews, was the feisty kid brother in that jazz family--Riverside Records, the last to start and the first to stop, but in some ways the most aggressive of the trio, a company that in barely a decade of activity (1952-1964) initiated and developed the careers of a remarkably broad range of significant major artists.
This collection of Riverside highlights is very much a tale from the inside, having been compiled and annotated by Keepnews, the veteran producer, historian, and record executive whose extensive career began as co-founder and creative head of the label. Opening with a track from the initial album by the company's first and most celebrated star, Thelonious Monk, the producer touches on the music of 43 of Riverside's most memorable performers, drawn from a roster of more than a hundred and fifty leaders.
The list boasts such cornerstones of modern jazz as Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery (both of whom made their first LPs for Riverside), Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Gerry Mulligan, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Johnny Griffin, Philly Joe Jones, Wynton Kelly, and Kenny Dorham, but also touches on previous jazz forms with late efforts by giants like Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. Although primarily focused on instrumentalists, it also includes such notable jazz vocalists as Mark Murphy, Abbey Lincoln, and Eddie Jefferson.