That's right folks. Fifty years ago this summer, George Wein
presented the first jazz festival - The Newport Jazz Festival - where it all began.
That's the big picture. As we focus in, we first see the lineup for the 2004 JVC Jazz Festival - New York. It's the annual press conference at Manhattan's Supper Club. A fine food spread, sizzling jazz and lots of jazz musicians and jazz journalists.
Chico Hamilton and Jon Faddis made the scene. So did Jazz At Lincoln Center point person Mary Fiance Fuss and Jazz Journalists Association President Howard Mandel.
George Wein is the CEO of Festival Productions, Inc. and producer of the JVC Jazz Festival and much more. He's a busy man. Always with a smile and a warm handshake. Read all about this great human being and his extraordinary life in his memoirs, Myself Among Others , published by Da Cap Press.
This warm April afternoon in New York City brought great news of a great lineup. My jazz buddy for many years, Neil Braccidiferro, and I made our way crosstown past Times Square to the cultural press party.
"The summer of 2004 is truly a producer's dream. In June, we celebrate the 20th year with JVC as a corporate sponsor and supporter of jazz," Wein announced. "To cap it off, this August marks the 50th anniversary of the world's first jazz festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, sponsored by JVC. We are grateful to JVC for helping us bring the festival in to the 21st Century."
Wein continues, "My wife, Joyce, and I, along with the entire staff of Festival Productions, are proud to be a part of jazz history, and we look forward to continuing the celebration of jazz in New York, Newport and other cities around the world." Now George, will you sign my book? (He did.)
Wein's hipness is evident in the eclectic selection of performers: from Ornette Coleman at Carnegie Hall to George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic at The Apollo...it's all good. The 2004 JVC Jazz Festival - New York runs from June 15-26 and features more than 300 artists in nearly 60 shows at 17 venues.
Other big names coming to the Big Apple this summer include: the Herbie Hancock/Wayne Shorter/Dave Holland/Brian Blade bunch, Abbey Lincoln, Diane Reeves, Joao Gilberto, Pancho Sanchez, Phil Woods and Roy Haynes.
And that's just a glimpse.
It's always a treat to see George every year at this great gathering. Tonight was also special because we celebrated the birthday coming up of Wein's longtime friend and associate - Charles Bourgeois (aka Sacro Bumpus). Man, I love this guy. Still swingin' at 85! Read the book.
Also announced at the press conference, JVC Jazz Festivals will take place in 10 other cities worldwide. Tour cities in 2004 include: Miami Beach (May 5-9), Chicago (June 15-17), Winter Park-CO (July 10-11), Newport (August 11-15), the San Francisco Bay Area (August 21), Los Angeles (August 22) The Hague, Seoul, Paris and Warsaw.
Don't forget the Freihofer's Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, June 26-27. Remember, the JVC Jazz Festival - Newport celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival August 11-15. (Get the full schedule at the website listed below.) And I'm telling you, they've got the best lineup they've had in a decade or two. Solid. Jam-packed. But that's another story.
Visit the JVC Newport Jazz Festival on the web.