Monday, September 13, 2010

Giving credit where it is due - and then some...

When you've made an indelible imprint on an art form - people take notice. Particularly when that effort has helped fuel their own successes.

Such is the case with George Wein, the producer of the first jazz festival as we know it today back in 1954 in Newport RI.

In June 2009, as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival's 30th anniversary, founders Alain Simard and Andre Menard honored Wein (right) as the “father of all jazz festivals” at a news conference before his Newport All-Stars performance at Montreal's Théâtre Jean-Duceppe. They gave him a symbolic Tony Bennett silkscreen of Louis Armstrong that the singer and painter created especially for the festival.

This Thursday, September 16, the Monterey Jazz Festival will honor Wein at its 2010 Jazz Legends Gala at Mission Ranch in Carmel CA. The $225-per-ticket event will be hosted by another pianist, who is far better known as an actor-producer, Clint Eastwood, and his wife Dina. 2010 Festival Artist-in-Residence Dianne Reeves will perform at the gala, which is a benefit for the Monterey Jazz Festival's education programs.

“With George appearing at this year’s MJF, it is a perfect opportunity to honor him with our Jazz Legends Award,” said Tim Jackson, General Manager of the Monterey Jazz Festival. “He is truly ‘The godfather’ of jazz festivals.”

The Jazz Legends Award was first presented to pianist Dave Brubeck in 2007, and to the composer, trumpeter and bandleader, Gerald Wilson, in 2008. MJF’s Education Programs have a strong impact on students and schools from coast to coast.

Wein will at the 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19 for a performance and a live interview.

The honors are most fitting at both venues not only for starting a jazz venue that is an art form unto itself.

Wein, who turns 85 on October 3, came back from semi-retirement last year to rescue the Newport Jazz Festival. Young entrepreneurs who bought the festival from him a few years earlier ran it into the ground financially under the Festival Network aegis. Wen and his own crew are still hard at it under the banner, New Festival Productions.


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