87-year-old Newport Jazz Festival founder Wein still playing

Not many 87-year-olds are playing jazz clubs these days, but then not many 87-year-olds are legendary impresario George Wein, who founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 (and its Newport Folk Festival sister in 1959). Wein got some nice press from jazz historian Will Friedwald in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:

There can be little doubt that George Wein is the most important impresario and producer in the history of jazz. His creation of not just the first important jazz festival (at Newport, R.I., in 1954) but of an entire international network of festivals changed the way we listen to all music. …

In addition to running two clubs, a record label and more festivals across the globe than anyone can count, he has a side career as a pianist, bandleader and, occasionally, vocalist. This week, Mr. Wein performs twice, both times in honor of departed friends and colleagues whose achievements were especially meaningful to him.

Two years ago Wein turned the festivals’ management into a nonprofit, the Newport Festivals Foundation, a change he now says “turned out to be a good idea.” The story is all the more timely with the passing this week of Dave Brubeck, a mainstay at the jazz festival.

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