Inspiration of the worldwide jazz festival movement George Wein has died aged 95

George Wein, the inspiration of the worldwide jazz festival movement, has died at the age of 95 in New York. Spokesperson Carolyn McClair announced his death. Wein was a pianist and had run the Storyville jazz club in Boston and became renowned for …

Published: 14 Sep 2021. Updated: 4 days.

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George Wein, the inspiration of the worldwide jazz festival movement, has died at the age of 95 in New York. Spokesperson Carolyn McClair announced his death. Wein was a pianist and had run the Storyville jazz club in Boston and became renowned for launching the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and led it for over half a century. Newport was immortalised in the consciousness of jazz fans globally in the classic documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day.

Wein later promoted at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice and his formats became a model for jazz festivals and other genres globally. As a musician he continued to play and released albums such as Wein, Women and Song and was named an NEA Jazz Master (America's greatest jazz honour) in 2005 two years after the publication of his autobiography, Myself Among Others: A Life in Music. In the book he wrote: ''Whether it’s one of the many festival producers throughout the world, or the concert promoters, or the individual nightclub owners struggling night to night – their contributions are essential to the history of this music. I’m glad to have been part of this process: in the development of the jazz festival, the acceptance of this music as art, the efforts to bring jazz to a wider audience worldwide.”

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Blue Bolero from upcoming Abdullah Ibrahim solo piano album Solotude is streaming

We don't often get ''earworms'' but did back in 2016. The piece that became one was 'Blue Bolero' heard live. The artist, Abdullah Ibrahim (above: photo via Gearbox on Bandcamp). And now a later 2020 version of 'Blue Bolero' recorded in Germany …

Published: 13 Sep 2021. Updated: 5 days.

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We don't often get ''earworms'' but did back in 2016. The piece that became one was 'Blue Bolero' heard live. The artist, Abdullah Ibrahim (above: photo via Gearbox on Bandcamp). And now a later 2020 version of 'Blue Bolero' recorded in Germany from upcoming album Solotude is streaming.

Nobody does stately grandeur and a sense of momentousness better than Ibrahim. How the earworm happened was hearing Ibrahim at London's Barbican. So on that occasion a man came on to the stage, touched the piano and left. Moments later, that touch completed a smile of recognition as we in the audience having momentarily sat in darkness saw what he did, the surprise in his eyes, and gently laughed at the ritual. Ibrahim, above, then came on and approached the Fazioli, its castors gleaming. Dressed in black, his clothes loose and comfortable-looking, his hair grey, mien dignified, began to play.

A hymn of concentration, the sheet music in front of him a little irrelevant but this was pure improvisation and an assembling once more of a lifetime of music with a few cues from the few staves there happened to be on the paper representing the roux, the essence, Ibrahim’s Ellingtonian body of work and artistry more to the point in his head and in his heart. Ibrahim didn’t speak at all and none of the tunes were announced. One theme, a thing of beauty, ‘Blue Bolero’, returned a few times within the first improvisation, the repetition a charm and besides this there were echoes of Monk particularly.

'Blue Bolero' was also recorded in a trio situation by the great South African jazz icon and global inspiration for instance on his Tiptoe/Enja label African Magic recording issued in 2002.

And now it is felicitously back once again, a reason for no small celebration. Other Solotude tracks besides 'Blue Bolero' (and two reprises of the piece) on the Gearbox November release are: Mindiff, Trieste My Love, Nisa, In-Tempo, Dreamtime, Peace, Blues For A Hip King (also on the aforementioned African Magic), District 6 and a reprise of the piece, Tokai, Pula, Sotho Blue, Did You Hear That Sound, In The Evening, Once Upon A Midnight, The Wedding and Signal On The Hill. Solotude was recorded at the Hirzinger Hall in the small Bavarian town of Riedering. Earworm time all over again. Lightning does, somehow, strike twice.