29 de setembre, 2010

Happy 85th Birthday, George Wein!

George Wein and a Fazioli (photo: Ayano Hisa)

As NEA Jazz Master George Wein prepares to celebrate his 85th birthday George Wein quietly with family and friends on Sunday, October 3, he reflects on the past, present and future, including jazz and folk festivals in New York and Newport, performances in Barcelona (Spain), San Juan (PR), New York, Newport, Monterey and San Francisco and the special recognition he received in every city in which he performed.

"It has been a great year," said Wein. "Thanks to CareFusion, the June jazz festival returned to New York after a hiatus in 2009 and my folk and jazz festivals in Newport celebrated 51 and 56 years, respectively, and both events drew significantly larger audiences than the previous year.

I am deeply grateful and humbled to receive special honors and recognition from organizations across the nation and I'm thrilled to be able to continue performing internationally with some of the world's greatest musicians. None of this would be possible without my small and very efficient team of industry professionals to whom I am thankful for their hard work and dedication not just to the music, but to me. I couldn't ask for a better birthday present than to be George Wein surrounded by my festival family and music, music, music."

Wein continues his birthday celebration October 19 - 24 at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, 60th and Broadway in New York City, when he returns to Jazz at Lincoln Center with his Newport All-Stars. Featuring Wein on piano, the All-Stars are Randy Brecker, trumpet; Lew Tabackin, saxophone; Howard Alden, guitar; Rufus Reid, bass; and Lewis Nash, drums. Randy Sandke sits in for Brecker on October 21 while Anat Cohen, clarinet, takes over for Alden on October 23 - 24. In addition, some of Wein's favorite musicians will stop by to perform with their friend each night. Set times are 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. For reservations and more information, call (212) 258-9595 or visit www.jalc.org.

In May, Wein performed in Barcelona to announce the partnership of sister festivals, CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival and Voll-Damm Jazz Festival Internacional; in June, he celebrated with his Newport All-Stars at the Heineken Jazz Festival in San Juan.

George Wein, last May in Barcelona (photo: Raül Esteve)

In June, Wein was named 2010 Events Producer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association of America at an industry-wide ceremony in Manhattan and he was honored in Queens with the York College Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Branford Marsalis. Later that month, he traveled to Newport where he received the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts, sharing the stage with honorees Liza Minnelli and Bert Crenca. That tribute was followed by the Newport Council for International Visitors Award for significantly contributing to the appreciation of American Music around the world; Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano presented Wein with the Keys to the City of Newport and proclaimed August 7 as George Wein Day in Newport. Wein and the Newport All-Stars performed at the CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival on George Wein Day and Mayor Napolitano joined the pianist at Fort Adams State Park to pay tribute to four retired Newport police officers who helped to keep festival-goers safe during an upheaval that took place outside the festival gates 50 years ago this summer.

The 53rd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival honored the legendary impresario, pianist and philanthropist, at its 2010 Jazz Legends Gala on September 16 at Mission Ranch in Carmel. The award was presented by Clint Eastwood and his wife Dina. The festival presented Wein in conversation and in concert with the Newport All-Stars on September 18 - 19.

Wein then traveled to San Francisco for performances at Yoshi's on September 20 - 21; former Mayor Willie Brown represented the city and delivered a proclamation from Mayor Gavin Newsom, who declared September 21 as George Wein Day in San Francisco.

 Wein and artistic director of Barcelona Jazz Festival, Joan A. Cararach,
last summer in Newport (photo: Adriana Mateo)
Gift of Giving
George Wein joins The Studio Museum in Harlem to announce the fifth presentation of The Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. The Prize recognizes the achievement of an artist who demonstrates great innovation, promise, and creativity, and includes a monetary award of $50,000. Established by Wein in memory of his wife, Joyce Alexander Wein, an esteemed trustee of the Studio Museum for many years, the Prize honors the legacy of a woman whose life embodied a commitment to the power and possibilities of art, artists and culture. The Prize winner will be announced at the Gala 2010 on October 25. Previous Prize recipients are Glenn Ligon (2009), Nadine Robinson (2008), Trenton Doyle Hancock (2007) and Lorna Simpson (2006).

"Continuing Joyce's work with and love for The Studio Museum is an honor and a privilege," said Wein. "To help these talented artists advance their dreams in whatever way they choose is very special and to complement the work of the museum's executive director and chief curator, Thelma Golden, is a joy. I continue to look forward to getting to know the annual recipients and following their work for years to come."

As George Wein said in 2005 when he celebrated his 80th birthday, "I don't ever plan to retire from my work in jazz and the arts." With that affirmation of his love for music, art and all things cultural, Wein and his New Festival Productions have already begun planning for the 2011 festivals in New York and Newport. An announcement of the dates is forthcoming.