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George Wein: Back to Doing His Thing

R.J. DeLuke By

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"I have to get up a lot of energy to play with these people. They're great players. I don't play that much, so for me to play with them I've got to go that extra mile. It's a little tough sometimes at my age," he says.

He's acknowledged over the years that playing piano has been his great love.

"Oh, man. When we get a good feeling in a night at a club, or a good feeling at a concert, there's nothing like it. That's why I went into the business in the first place was the love of the music," says Wein. "I found out I had a better head for organizing than for playing. I was always calling up everybody to form a band or play ball. I was always the organizer."

Self-effacing about his piano playing, his career path as a producer has led to great gains for the music and musicians for more than half a century. It's been a long and colorful path, far from smooth sailing. Thankfully, he chronicled most of it with author Nate Chinen in 2003's Myself Among Others (DaCapo Press).

Now there's his "new start in life," and if it only leads to new life for jazz music at Newport, then that's fair enough. Wein eventually has to leave things to others. We just don't know when and we probably don't want to know.

"We all have regrets about certain things, but they usually end up where you could have made some money and you didn't do it, or you lost money. My overall career? No regrets at all. I've had nothing but joy about what I've done in my life. I've always done what I've wanted. I've survived my critics and I've made most people my friends, which is the name of the game," says Wein.

He adds with sincerity, "Friendship, to me, is very important. I have tremendous respect for people and friendship. You don't have to be a big shot. Do your thing and that's all."
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