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George T. Wein

George T. Wein
The DCJF Lifetime Achievement Award
2008

George Wein is indisputably the “godfather” of the jazz festival movement and is best known as the impresario who has promoted jazz festivals, musicians and their music worldwide for over sixty years. Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1925, Wein was a jazz pianist in his youth and led a small group while studying at Boston University. In 1950, he opened a jazz club called Storyville and established a record label by the same name. In 1954, Louis and Elaine Lorillard engaged Wein to organize a jazz festival; the subsequent festival was the first outdoor jazz festival in the United States – the famed Newport Jazz Festival.

George Wein is indisputably the “godfather” of the jazz festival movement and is best known as the impresario who has promoted jazz festivals, musicians and their music worldwide for over sixty years. Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1925, Wein was a jazz pianist in his youth and led a small group while studying at Boston University. In 1950, he opened a jazz club called Storyville and established a record label by the same name. In 1954, Louis and Elaine Lorillard engaged Wein to organize a jazz festival; the subsequent festival was the first outdoor jazz festival in the United States – the famed Newport Jazz Festival. Wein went on to start festivals in other cities including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. In the 1960s, he set up Festival Productions, a company dedicated to promoting large and small-scale jazz events. .

Wein has received a wide array of honors for his untiring dedication including the Studio Museum of Harlem, Patron of the Arts Award and the AARP Impact Award. He was also decorated with France’s Légion d’honneur, appointed Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government and honored by past U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Born in 1918 in Vicksburg , Mississippi , Hank Jones grew up in Pontiac , Michigan. Although his father thought playing Jazz at the time was 'evil', Hank start playing in local bands in Michigan , Ohio and Buffalo before moving to New York City in 1943. His first job was with Hot Lips Page at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street where in 1945 he joined Billy Eckstine's big band. The following year he joined Colman Hawkins and from 1947 to 1951 he toured the world with the Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) accompanying Ella Fitzgerald. In 1952 he joined Artie Shaw and then worked with Johnny Hodges followed by Tyree Glenn. In 1956 he joined Benny Goodman and joined the CBS studios as staff pianist in 1959, a position which would last for seventeen years.