EL CERRITO, CA (CelebrityAccess) — Orrin Keepnews, the 4 time Grammy Award-winning label exec who produced albums by jazz greats such as Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk died on Sunday at his home in El Cerrito, Calif. He was 91.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Keepnews started in the industry as a jazz journalist, working as the managing editor of The Record Changer, and in that role, wrote one of the first major profiles of Thelonious Monk.
Keepnews went on to launch a number of influential jazz labels, including Riverside Records, Milestone Records and Landmark Records.
In the 1980s, Keepnews won several Recording Academy Grammy Awards, including for Best Album Notes for The "Interplay" Sessions performed by Bill Evans in 1984 and Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes for Thelonious Monk: The Complete Riverside Recordings in 1988.
In 2004 Keepnews was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and in 2011 he was named as as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
"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," said Neil Portnow, President & CEO of The Recording Academy in a statement. – Staff Writers