In early 1953, Orrin Keepnews, a magazine editor and writer, and Bill Grauer, a bean-counter, started Riverside Records. Both had had some experience producing jazz reissues for RCA. As Orrin told me when I first interviewed him in 2007, “We were too damn dumb to be scared." The label was named after the office's telephone exchange following unfruitful attempts to come up with something better.
At first, Riverside's strategy was to use the new 10-inch LP format as a way to offer previously released pre-war jazz singles issued on the defunct Paramount label. Three singles would fit snugly on each side of the 10-inch LP. Then in 1954 Grauer heard a young pianist in Lenox, Mass. whom he thought Riverside should record. But Riverside could only afford a solo effort by Randy Weston, who wanted a trio session. A compromised was reached, and Randy was backed only by bassist Sam Gill.