Friday, April 27, 2012

Building for the future

George Wein
How do you ensure the granddaddy of jazz festivals will be around for a long time? Producer George Wein has been running the Newport Jazz Festival since it was first held in 1954. That's 58 years ago, and Wein, now 86, is a realist.
He knows he won't be around forever, but wants to ensure the festival will be. So he's taken a multi-faceted approach to sustain the event, showcase newer generations of musicians, and help build the future talent base and audience for jazz.

He started by creating the Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc., to oversee the jazz festival and the Newport Folk Festival. And he has accelerated efforts this year in the area of developing future generations of musicians and fans through local partnerships.
On May 5, the foundation and the Salve Regina University Department of Performing Arts will hold a free master-class program for southern New England high school musicians. Trumpeter Jon Faddis will participate along with seven area performers and educators as Pathways to Jazz workshop leaders. They are pianists Mac Chrupcala, Mike Renzi and Joe Parillo, saxophonist Metro Narcissi, guitarist Gino Rosati, bassist Alan Bernstein and drummer Mike Coffey.
Mostly Other People Do The Killing
The foundation and the jazz festival's primary sponsor, Natixis Global Asset Management, are also initiating a performance and scholarship program that will begin at the Newport Jazz Festival in August. The Rhode Island Music Educators Association's all-state high school jazz band will be the opening act on Saturday, August 4, and a selected student musician from that band will receive a $5,000 scholarship.
Natixis and the foundation reached a new three-year sponsorship agreement that includes the scholarship commitment. Wein said the new partnership "now reinforces the joint commitment of both of our organizations to help talented young performers develop future careers as professional musicians."

Two companion initiatives also continue this year. One showcases young jazz artists from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  • On Sunday, August 5, the Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors (with drummer Adam Cruz as special guest) will open the main stage concerts at Fort Adams State Park. The group includes participants in Berklee's Global Jazz Institute.
  • The other continuing initiative brings busloads of inner-city music students to the festival from Providence and other cities in the Northeast for free, enabling them to experience the event, meet and talk with production staff and musicians backstage, and expand their arts horizons.
Pulled together, all of these initiatives can help develop the musical communities of the future. As will Wein's programming, which exposes the Newport audience to younger musicians and bands, such as the quartet Mostly Other People Do The Killing, who are making a mark on the music in any different ways.

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