If your ears perk up at the mention of the name Orrin Keepnews, congratulations-you are on your way to passing the test for being a real jazz fan and not just another schmoe with a copy of Time Out stuck on the shelf in between A Hard Day’s Night and Close to You. Of course, a passing grade depends on whether or not you can explain the vital role Keepnews played in the beginnings of the bebop era. Here’s a cheat sheet (I like to see everybody make the grade):
Keepnews wrote for The Record Changer in the 1940s. He recorded Monk, Wes, Cannonball, Bill Evans and other luminaries for his own Riverside label in the 1950s. He founded Milestone Records in the mid-1960s and the Landmark label in the 1980s. He has written jazz criticism and liner notes out the wazoo throughout his career.
Keepnews was a jazzman if ever there was, so it feels good to know that he’ll be honored on his 80th birthday, March 2, in the same way so many of the musicians he recorded and helped bring to prominence often are: with a big party featuring live music, tributes from friends and surprise guests.
The throw-down will be held at Moose’s Restaurant in San Francisco on March 2 from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. and is being co-produced by the S.F. chapter of the Recording Academy. Reservations are $20 with the proceeds benefiting the Education Fund of the San Francisco
Recording Academy. Call 1-800-28-MOOSE or (415) 989-7800 ext. 11 to get a seat or visit mooses.com for more info.
Now, let’s say you want some extra credit for that test question on Weather Report you’re going blow-you stubborn bebopper you. Just send Keepnews a birthday greeting. Make it pretty, use nice penmanship and send it to Orrin Keepnews, c/o Fantasy, Tenth and Parker, Berkeley, CA 94710.