George Wein opened his first jazz club, Storyville, in the early 1950s when he was a young man. He then created the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. The festival became an icon among music festivals and influenced the way music was presented around the world.
I spoke to George just before he turned 90, in 2015. At the time he was still vital and vibrant, working tirelessly to further the mission of his festival and his foundation (Newport Festivals Foundation). Although his festivals have been responsible for bringing jazz, folk and pop music to general awareness, he is unabashedly a jazzman. As he says, “you gotta stick with jazz.”
We talked about his past, present, and incredibly, his future. We started out with him asking me my age. It caught me off guard, but as he explained “when you know someone’s age, you know a little bit about where they’re coming from.”
George passed away this week. He was 95.