(Last updated: December 15, 2020)
(For Jazzland see separate entry)
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Riverside Records Overview
Founded in 1953 by Orrin Keepnews and Bill Grauer under his firm Bill Grauer Productions Inc. Almost all their new jazz recordings were produced by Keepnews, who served as creative head of the label, with Grauer directing the company’s sales and business operations.
In 1955 the Prestige Records contract of Thelonious Monk was bought out and Monk was signed by Riverside, where he remained for the next five years. During the next few years, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Charlie Byrd, JohnnyGriffin and Wes Montgomery made substantial contributions to Riverside’s catalog, establishing it as a major jazz label.
Riverside had no overall engineering champion, and used several different New York studios and engineers for their recordings, usually Plaza Sound (Ray Fowler, Jack Mathews), Reeves Sound (Jack Higgins) and Bell Sound (Bill Stoddard). Engineering at these studios was generally very good, a few duds, but lively mono presentation, early stereo generally to be avoided. US Riverside and Jazzland pressing can be prone to surface noise even when clean, suspicion of lower quality vinyl or pressing plant. UK Interdisc editions pressed by Decca or Philips can be preferable.
Grauer died, following a sudden heart attack, in December 1963, and the company went bankrupt not long after. The catalogue was leased by ABC Records, which reissued some of it, but virtually all Riverside masters were acquired by Fantasy Records in 1972 who proceeded to flood the market with bland reissues, which often do not do the music justice, and so ensured the continued desirability of original pre-1972 Riverside pressings.
(Wikipedia link) Riverside label Discography
(BSNPUBS) Riverside Label Discography reproduced below- I claim no credit
The first Riverside label was white with black printing, “RIVERSIDE” in white in a light blue box above the center hole. .Above Riverside are 2 tape reels and a microphone logo. At the bottom of the label is “Bill Grauer Productions New York City”. This label was used from the start of the label to 1956 approximately #240 & # 625.
The second label was dark blue with silver printing, “RIVERSIDE” above the center hole in silver. Above Riverside is a silver box with 2 tape reels and a microphone logo. At the bottom of the label is “Bill Grauer Productions Inc. New York City”. This label was used from 1956 to 1965. During this time the stereo issues had a black label with silver print, graphics being the same.
The third label was blue with silver print. “RIVERSIDE” above the center hole in a thinner print font and the 2 tape reels and microphone logo wa omitted. This label was used in late 1965 and 1966.
The forth label was blue/green with silver print, “RIVERSIDE” in a bolder font above the center hole, at the bottom of the label was “ORPHEUM PRODUCTIONS INC: NEW YORK CITY”. This label was used in 1966 and 1967.
The fifth label was used on the RS-3000 series. It was brown and black with a black and white logo. Printing was white. A large “R” above the center hole with “RIVERSIDE” below it. At the bottom of the label was “DISTRIBTED BY ABC RECORDS, INC., NEW YORK, N.Y. 10019 – MADE IN U.S.A.”
There were no Riverside records issued between 1972 to the early 1980’s. In the 1980’s Riverside records were released by Fantasy Records as part of the Original Jazz Classics (OJC) series. These records had the graphics of the first Riverside label but white and gray rather than the white and blue used originally. At the bottom of this label was “FANTASY, INC., BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA”.
If anyone has other variations of Riverside labels, send photo to me at the email address to be found at the foot of the LJC ABOUT page full photo credit given, or anonymous, as you prefer.
londonjazzcollector (at) outlook (dot) com
Photos should be .jpg or .png minimum 800 x 800 pixel or greater, sharp, evenly-lit, square onto the label, disc Side 1.