Riverside in Japan

Last updated: November 14, 2016

Very rare, a label sent me by LJC reader Eugene M, looks like a vintage Interdisc-licensed Riverside title pressed by Victor, from the ’60s (a 1962 recording). The pressing die ring is almost deep groove, not seen since the early ’60s.

riverside-victor-japan-interdisc

riverside-victor-japan-interdisc-inner-sleeve

Photos: Eugene M

Fantasy Records, owners of both the Riverside and Prestige labels since 1972, will have been aware of the success of United Artists  with the Blue Note reissue programme in Japan. To capitalise on its own jazz catalogue Fantasy licensed Victor Music Industries to reissue select titles from their Prestige, New Jazz and Riverside catalogues.

Cheekily, Fantasy issued some recordings by altoist Ernie Henry – a little known name as he died soon after, hence the album title, but the recording session featured numerous high profile names from the Blue Note world.

Riverside-victor-Henry-Cover-and-OBI-1800-LJC

RIVERSIDE-VICTOR-JAPAN-LABEL-1000-LJCHenry-Last-Chorus-RIVERSIDE-VICTOR-JAPAN-INSERT-1800-LJC

Victor are a bit of a mixed bag. Some are fine, but too often the top-end is rolled off and lacking in dynamic range, something engineers thought countered tape hiss, but which stunted the sonics at the same time.

Green Milestone label

Victor also licensed Milestone Recordings in Japan – seen here, the green Milestone label

Victor-Japan-Green-Milestone-label-1200-LJC

I recall not being very impressed with the sonics, somewhat bland, lacking the visceral punch you would expect from a lineup like this. Recorded for Riverside in 1956.

The use of the Milestone label design rather than Riverside may be connected with  Orin Keepnews , who was head of Riverside, which filed for bankruptcy in 1963.  Orin then founded Milestone in 1966 to continue publishing music. Virtually all Riverside masters were acquired Fantasy Records in 1972 but perhaps some like this remained in the ownership of Keepnews and Milestone.

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5 thoughts on “Riverside in Japan

  1. I have near 10 Japanese releases on blue Riverside label (one of them is mono). And all of them sounds great, even when conditions are far from excellent.

    • Hi, thanks for your observations, SomS. Do you have an indication of when yours were manufactured? I ask this because I have a number of Japanese reissues of Milestone/ Riverside and to my ear they are mostly all terrible in comparison to originals. I wonder if there is a legacy issue, about recordings reissued at different times.

      On previous occasions I have found good and bad reissues from Japan, and the copies from the Fantasy years have included very poor transfers, which I put down to what Fantasy sent, no reflection on Japanese engineering.

      Have you been able to compare Japan reissues with US originals?

  2. I’ve become more and more impressed with many of the Victor Riverside releases…they certainly used better vinyl than original Riverside releases. How about a couple of your famous side by side comparisons between the 2?

  3. Updated with some more on the Green Milestone label. The line up of both the Ernie Henry releases are remarkable but I recall being quite disappointed with the quality of the transfers by Victor, though it is hard to know at whom to point the finger.

  4. There is also a Presenting Ernie Henry on Victor Japan with Kenny Dorham and Kenny Drew from a 1956 session. I have this on a green Milestone label from Victor from Riverside Sonically very good. Do you have any knowledge of the Green Milestone labels from Victor Japan?

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