Jazz Impresario George Wein is renowned for his work in organizing and booking music festivals, and in particular for creating the Newport Jazz Festival, an event that in the words of the late jazz critic Leonard Feather started the "festival era."
A professional pianist from his early teens, George Wein went on to lead his own band in and around his native Boston, frequently accom-panying visiting jazz musicians. In 1950, he opened his own club in Boston, formed the Storyville record label, and launched his career as a jazz entrepreneur. In 1954, he was invited to organize the first Newport Jazz Festival. He subsequently played an important role in estab-lishing numerous other international festivals, including the annual Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, the South of France. Joyce Wein, George's wife of 46 years played an integral role in the development of every festival Wein produced.
In 1969, George Wein established Festival Productions, which produces hundreds of musical events, internationally each year. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been a celebrated FPI production for over thirty years. The Newport Folk Festival has also seen decades of success since being established in the early 1960's.
George Wein was a pioneer in securing corporate sponsorship for musical events, a marketing innovation that has helped to sustain the art form and its creators through the years. The Schlitz Salute to Jazz and the Playboy Jazz Festival, two of the first corporate sponsored events in the industry's history, were festivals produced by Wein. George Wein's Festival Productions went on to produce the Kool Jazz Festival, the Essence Music Festival, and JVC Jazz festivals and events in six cities across the U.S; and five countries around the world.
George Wein remains an active producer at age 82. He serves on the executive board of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and is an Honorary Trustee on the board at Carnegie Hall. Recently he has also been honored with The French Legion d' Honneur and designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. To be named an NEA Jazz Master is the nation's highest honor in jazz.
In addition to carrying on this work, he is an author, whose autobiography Myself Among Others was recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association as 2004's best book about jazz, and continues to perform as a pianist, touring the United States, Europe, and Japan with his group, the Newport All-Stars.