Jazz Impresario George Wein is considered to be as much a legend as his festivals. Through his company, Festival Productions, Inc. he has spearheaded hundreds of music events annually since 1954 when he produced the first Newport Jazz Festival - an event that started the "festival era," according to jazz critic Leonard Feather. He followed the success of America's first outdoor jazz festival with the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. Later, he pioneered the concept of sponsor association with music events; the Schlitz Salute to Jazz and the Kool Jazz Festival preceded any other sponsor identity with entertainment events, giving the sponsor the title presentation which guaranteed mention of the sponsor's name in publicity and promotion. His company went on to produce titled events for JVC, Mellon Bank, Verizon, Essence, Ben & Jerry's, CareFusion and others.
At 87, Wein has as much creative fuel as he did when he started the Newport festivals and advanced the concept of live music. In 2010, he founded Newport Festivals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that will perpetuate the history of jazz and folk music in Newport and allow the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals to live on in perpetuity.
In addition to his work as a producer, George Wein is an accomplished pianist whose group, the Newport All-Stars, has toured the United States, Europe and Japan. His band has featured some of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz music.