, who received an honorary Grammy in
2015 for pioneering the concept of music festivals
, died this week
, family spokesperson Carolyn McNair 已确认
. 他是 95.
“If you’ve been to a music festival you’ve experienced the influence of George Wein,” said Jay Sweet, executive producer of the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, 在给 CNN 的一份声明中.
A life defined by jazz
Wein’s musical career started out when he was a tot in the 1930s
, singing standards on the radio while his mother accompanied him on piano
. He trained in classical piano as a boy
, which he liked well enough until his older brother brought home a Louis Armstrong record
. His immediate affinity for those early jazz records set the course of his life
, 他说 Hamilton College in a 2001 interview for its jazz archives
By the time he was in middle school, young Wein had formed a jazz band that performed in seedy bars around Massachusetts. He and his fellow young musicians, most of them not old enough to drink in the establishments where they played, were paid measly sums for their performances, he said in the Hamilton College interview. The experiences he had as a teen pianist were formative, 虽然, even if their performances occasionally soundtracked bar brawls.
在 1944, Wein joined the US Army as a combat engineer, and he played piano to escape punishment — the officers’ dances always needed a pianist, 他说.
“Playing the piano had its plusses,” he said in the Hamilton College interview.
Playing music in the military was a “saving grace” for Wein, but when World War II ended and he’d graduated from Boston University, he realized playing music professionally wouldn’t be fulfilling. He’d known so many musicians who’d mastered their craft but whose lives fell apart offstage, 他说.
“I think in seeing them drink in their rooms at night, 你懂, and so lonely and so out of it, 我说, ‘I’m not sure that this is the life I really want, even though I love playing and I love the music,'” he said in the Hamilton College interview.
Fully abandoning jazz was never an option, 虽然, so in 1950, with the limited funds he’d saved from attending college through the GI Bill, Wein opened the Storyville jazz club in Boston. He booked artists whose music he enjoyed — and many of those artists became the genre’s greatest stars.
“I was interested in playing as many of the jazz greats as possible
,” he said in a 2008 面试 with journalist Marc Myers of the blog JazzWax
. “I didn’t look at the box office results
Storyville barely broke even every week, but it attracted an esteemed clientele, including Elaine Lorillard. The wealthy socialite approached Wein about bringing jazz to her upscale neighborhood of Newport, 罗德岛. Wein didn’t know much about organizing concerts that could seat a city’s worth of guests rather than a few dozen club patrons, but he agreed.
“I saw it as an opportunity to promote jazz on a large scale and expose people of all ages to this great music
,” 他 told JazzWax
在 2008. “首次, people who didn’t go to clubs or couldn’t get in because they were too young now could see and hear the music and musicians live
, in a relaxed
, laid-back setting.
Wein said he borrowed ideas
“from the medieval days of festivals
,” but his first Newport Jazz Festival in
1954 became the blueprint for future music festivals
, with its outdoor setting
, its range of musicians and annual summertime staging
Future editions of the jazz festival included performances from Miles Davis, Duke Ellington — who recorded a live album at the festival in 1956 — and Billie Holiday, among many others. Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald would also release an album together, recorded live at the 1957 festival, before Holiday’s death. Later acts included Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Chick Corea.
在 1959 — the same year he married the Black biochemist Joyce Alexander
— Wein launched the Newport Folk Festival
, which has hosted artists as disparate as Joan Baez
, the Pixies and Dolly Parton
. Though it’s since expanded to include country and indie rock artists
, 在 1965 festival
, Bob Dylan shocked devoted folksters when he started wailing on an electric guitar
. As Wein wrote in his
, the moment ushered in a new era of the genre
: “Rock and roll was no longer taboo
; if Dylan could cross that line
, so could
Over the decades that followed
, Wein helped create several other music festivals
, like the New Orleans Jazz
& Heritage Festival and the Essence Music Festival
, 通过 his company Festival Productions
. And though he eventually handed over the reins of the Newport Jazz Festival to younger organizers
, he remained instrumental in festival operations
. His successor as artistic director
, Christian McBride
, called him the
“guiding light for every person who runs a major festival.
Sweet, the executive producer of the Newport festivals, said Wein was the embodiment of an “impresario.”
“He was an icon, a maverick, an artist, 积极分子, a philanthropist, a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly my friend,” Sweet said. “He left an unrivaled legacy and it’s now our job to keep growing it.”
Wein hardly slowed down over the years
. When Joyce died in
2005, Wein established a prize in her name
, the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize
, which awards
$ 50,000 to innovative Black artists through the Studio Museum Harlem
. 在 2013, 在年龄 88, he performed a concert at Lincoln Center in New York with a cast of
” 在一个 statement ahead of the performance
, Wein declared that
“jazz is life
!” — a fitting sentiment for a man who devoted almost all of his life to the genre
“Jazz has been my entire life,” he said in the 2013 声明. “It means everything. I learned so much from jazz that it’s affected me from that day right up until today — that’s a long time to be influenced by a great music.”