Lynn native George Wein to perform at Newport Jazz Festival

NEWPORT, R.I. – Lynn-born jazz pianist and impresario George Wein will be returning to the JVC Jazz Festival, in Newport, Rhode Island, as leader of a jazz supergroup. But, the reins of the festival will be, for the first time, in the hands of someone else.”This year is different for me,” said Wein from his New York home, “because (my company) Festival Productions is now owned by Festival Network. They’ve done a very nice job. They’ve allowed me to do what I want to do. I’m very pleased with the situation. I think it’s important for the future of Newport.”The diverse flavor of past JVC Jazz Festivals is retained with performers, at Newport’s scenic Fort Adams State Park on Saturday, August 9th and Sunday, August 10th, including Aretha Franklin, Wayne Shorter Quartet, Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock. Ex-James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley will be performing with jazz/funk bands, Lettuce on Saturday and Soulive on Sunday. Jazz-pop trumpet player/composer Chris Botti will be performing, along with New Orleans-born R&B vocalist, Ledisi, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, on Friday, August 8th, and Fort Adams State Park on Saturday. .”We have a terrific lineup this year,” said Wein.Previously performing at the festival as leader/piano player of all-star sextets and septets, Wein will be leading a quintet this year featuring guitarist Howard Alden, Israeli-born clarinet and saxophone player Anat Cohen, drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Esperanza Spalding. “We’re going to break up the festival,” he said. “It’s the most exciting group I’ve ever had. It’s not a formula music – trumpet, clarinet and trombone, which I played with for so many years. These kids are challenging me. Esperanza is only twenty-three years old. Anat was just named ?clarinetist of the year’ for the second year by the Jazz Journalists Association. I met the challenge (when we performed in Berne, Switzerland) and I’ll see if I could meet it in Newport.”A more dramatic change will be felt at the Newport Folk Festival a week earlier. Woodstock veteran Richie Havens and Levon Helm of The Band give a nod to the past, as do debut Newport Folk Festival appearances by Jakob Dylan and the late Bob Marley’s sons Stephen and Damian Marley. But, the bluegrass bands, traditional Celtic bards and Appalachian dulcimer players are gone as acts like Trey Anastasio (ex-Phish), Black Crowes, Cat Power and Son Volt turns the festival’s focus to more youth-oriented music.”Folk music, as a genre, has lost audiences,” said Wein, “and we have to stay in business. We want to get more into the contemporary concept. I don’t want the festival to fold.”One of the world’s most successful entertainers, Jimmy Buffett will be attracting parrot heads to Newport with his folk festival debut. “I’m excited about Jimmy Buffett,” said Wein. “He’s a huge figure. It’s a tremendous compliment to us that he’s coming. “The son of a successful ear, nose and throat doctor, Wein grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, a wealthy suburb west of Boston. After a stint in the military, where he played piano with army dance bands, he briefly balanced attending Harvard University by day and playing traditional jazz with Max Kaminsky and Pee Wee Russell at night. When music demanded more of his time, he left school.Having produced a concert, in 1949, while still in college, Wein took $5000, that he had saved by attending school on the GI Bill, and opened a jazz club, Storyville, in September 1950. For the next decade, the club was the hub of Boston’s jazz scene. “It was a great club,” Wein recalled. “We started with a traditional group with Bob Wilber. Then, I brought in George Shearing. I never so many people in my life. Then, I brought in Art Tatum and Billy Holiday. Six months later, I was twenty thousand dollars in debt and I was in business for the rest of my life. Everybody played there n Miles Davis, Art Blakey, the MJQ, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and

More Stories In Entertainment