Back in 1940, Keynote Recordings Inc. was a new, small and independent New York company with offices at 522 Fifth Ave., founded by Eric Bernay, the owner of a midtown Manhattan record store called The Music Room. Bernay was musically open-minded and, looking for a place in the increasingly competitive American record industry. The nature of Keynote’s early releases stopped them reaching a broader market, but at the end of 1943 Keynote turned to jazz and for the following three and a half years built up a large 78 rpm record catalogue of 10 and 12-inch albums which contributed greatly to documenting the jazz history of forties America. Responsible for this impressive venture was producer Harry Lim. During this relatively short period he used his deep knowledge and great contacts to record some of the most celebrated jazz soloists and outstanding newcomers on the New York, Chicago and Los Angeles jazz scenes—discs that rapidly became collectors’ items.
Listen to our Blue Note Shows and classic recordings on Keynote.