(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”.
Next: US Riverside Labels, or UK/Europe Riverside labels
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.
Hello to all,
I have a issue of Bill Evans Speak no Evil RLP 12-315 mono purchased on eBay advertised as a original 1960 press it doesn’t have the big deep grove circle but a smaller ” size of a quarter non deep groove circle in a darker blue with silver lettering & the Inc. included ”
just like the 60’s Riverside silver lettering with the 2 real’s & the microphone stereophonic 1960’s version exactly with the mic but without the stereophonic silver letters. Also on the wax no matrix numbers just a weird etching on one side of the label & across what seems like a R1 or RI etched .
Does anyone know about this ? It would be greatly appreciated .
If you could post a picture, it would be quite helpful trying to solve this mystery.
PS – You mean Portrait In Jazz not “Speak no Evil” correct?
12-315 should have deep groove, 235 West 46 address with INC on cover but no INC on label
Hi, I have some Japanese Riverside titles – Waltz for Debby is one of them. Blue riverside label with Japanese translation. Back of jacket is liner notes in Japanese. Glossy. Fontana records is referenced on the jacket: “made and sold by FONTANA RECORDS under rights from INTERDISC S. A.” Number SR- 7015. Any idea when these could have been pressed? Thanks
1. the 12-298 as shown under § 1 is a first pressing. The white labels ended after 12-242.
2. just received a brand new French black label mono copy of 12-376 (Bill Evans) Sunday at the Village Vanguard, “distributed in Europe by Interdisc”. The quality is outstanding, comparable to the Dutch Philips pressings for Interdisc of the period. All the particulars on the label are identical to the 12-305 from Andrew’s collection.
Thanks for the “promotion” of Wynton Kelly from second to first, Rudolf. Pleasant change from shadenfreude of posters demoting my records the other way around. Records have feelings you know. The Bill Evans is his best work in my view.
LJC: Going out on a big limb with that Bill Evans call. 😉
I am quite capable of sawing that limb off, while sitting on the end, of course.
I meant the “Vanguard session” – Sunday at, and Waltz for Debby: Motian/LaFaro/Evans, 25th June 1961. However good everything else is, these two are for me the creme de la creme. However I fully concede others may have a different view.
Just being a smart a**. That is certainly my favorite and the majority of others as well I imagine. Now if I could just find a clean, reasonably priced first pressing, I would be much happier.
DaveS: did you ever consider “More from the Vanguard” on Milestone M 9125? Less collectible, so more affordable. All its titles appeared on RLP 12-376/399, but are other takes from the same recording sessions.
What about black label stereo?
Anything to please LJC followers, have nipped back to NY 1961 and brought back a US Riverside 60’s Stereo. All at the foot of the Riverside page.
If anyone reading this has US stereo variations, and thinks they could manage a reasonably high resolution picture (800x800px or greater) send to me at the email at the foot of the LJC ABOUT page.
Full credit given, or anonymous, as you please
Interesting account on Riverside in its various ramifications. How is the French black mono sound wise? Who has got a copy? Michel out there? What is the year of issue of these French black monos? And who produced them Interdisc or Phonogram or somebody else (Carrere)?
The copy is my own, the only French Riverside I have ever seen.The sound is above average, though not outstanding.
I have a French Contemporary Vogue of Rollins way Out West, and a French Felsted of Music from The Connection (Freddie Redd/Tina Brooks) – the latter two being conected with Decca.
The black French Riverside cover say “Distributed in Europe by Interdisk” and the matrix looks like it could be Decca-related (Decca pressed British Riverside up until end of the Fifties/ very early Sixties after which pressing shifted to Philips.) but it lacks the usual Decca master version and engineer codes. No idea who pressed it or exactly when, but it is not deep groove, and the cover is Sixties laminated made in France (Paris printer) Certainly before Seventies and definitely not Carrere.
Interested if anyone else can throw any light on it.
thank you for your elaborate reply. I have an option to buy a French black mono Riverside and after I find it O.K. I will part with the identical Orpheum pressing, which I definitely don’t like.
Re your today’s post: the London cover of the Unique Thelonious Monk is the best of the three. The stamp cover is ugly, but I keep it with the US original photo cover. My photo cover copy has blue labels, not the regular white ones! In the same vein, I have a German London pressing 15009 of Monk plays Ellington. The sleeve is a reproduction of the first US desdign (three pictures of the musicians), printed in England, JU57, but the pressing with the London labels is German. I have also seen a London label Monk, pressed in France, with a French sleeve with English text..
Great Stuff!!!! Love it!!!!
I have an image you could add to your Riverside Record Labels. It’s a 1967 U.S. reissue (distributed by ABC Records, promo, mono, deep groove).
In case you’re interested, contact me.
Hi, pleased to have a look -labels usually at 800x800px as jpg – post as attachment to andrewsouthlondon (onewordnospaces) ( at ) hotmail dot co dot uk