Honouring the “father” of jazz festivals
Tribute to George Wein
Montreal, Friday, July 10, 2009 - For its 30th anniversary, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal welcomes and honours George Wein, the “father” of jazz festivals, who created the very first event of its kind, the Newport Jazz Festival, 55 years ago. Yesterday, in the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan pressroom, Alain Simard, president and founder of the Festival, and André Ménard, artistic director and co-founder, celebrated Wein’s remarkable support for the music, presenting him with a symbolic silkscreen, taken from Louis Armstrong, a piece created for the Festival by Tony Bennett.
Having opened the Storyville jazz club in 1950-and launched a record label by the same name-George Wein, a young pianist born in Boston in 1925, founded the Newport Jazz Festival, the very first of its kind, in Rhode Island. Fifty-five years later, the granddaddy of them all is still rolling. It is the most renowned of American festivals, and just the first of Wein’s numerous other festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles and the Newport Folk Festival. In the ’60s, Wein created Festival Productions, a company dedicated to the large-scale promotion of jazz events, with a presence in at least six cities and producing hundreds of events around the world every year. He has been honoured with a wide array of prizes and awards: he received the Patron of the Arts Award from the Studio Museum of Harlem in 1995, the Légion d’honneur et Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French government, was honoured at the White House by Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 1993, named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, an Honorary Trustee by Carnegie Hall, and received two honourary degrees, from the Rhode Island College of Music and the Berklee College of Music.
Producer, promoter and pianist George Wein developed the idea of touring the music by forming “all-star” groups of artists who played his festival-a formula that assembles the greatest names in jazz (and thrills fans of the music!) in concerts the world over. George Wein and the Newport All Stars with Lew Tabackin, Randy Sandke, Howard Alden, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash, tonight, July 10, 8 p.m. in Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, as part of the Jazz Beat TD Canada Trust series.
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