Festival Founder George Wein at the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival

This is the latest installment in George Wein’s regular email series, Notes From The Wein Machine. You can subscribe and see past issues here.


Hello!

I’m back with the first edition of the 2020 Wein Machine, hoping to entertain and educate you, to a small degree.

When Bird and Dizzy orbited the earth in the 1940’s followed by the “M” boys (Miles, Monk, Mingus and Max) and so many others, it changed the world of jazz. It was not long before the masters who proceeded the Bebop revolution created this great American art form passed into history. While not forgotten completely, they are only a little remembered.

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I’ve always believed that jazz is from J to Z and since our festivals in recent years have been more forward looking as to where the music is going, I felt it would be a good idea to ask Vince Giordano, a man who has dedicated his life studying and playing jazz of the 1920’s and ‘30s, to produce a series of concerts that will salute the Hall of Famers.

On Friday, August 7, the entire programming on the Harbor Stage will be devoted to “The History of Jazz“, which Vince has described as “vintage Jazz in Newport – old wine in new bottles.” This will allow some younger musicians who have enveloped their musical lives to the playing and preserving of such masters as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Jelly Roll Morton, the Condon school and so many others, who deserve to be part of the music presented at the Newport Jazz Festival.

This year Vince has organized 5 concerts:

Formed in in 2009, Tuba Skinny has steadily evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into a solid ensemble dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Drawing on a wide range of musical influences – from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz – their sound evokes the rich musical heritage of their New Orleans home. The band has gained a loyal following through their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their barnstorming live performances.

The New Wonders, a New York City based septet led by cornetist Mike Davis, vividly invoke America’s Jazz Age during the 1920s, when jazz was the soundtrack for dramatic national changes and played a central part in people’s dreams, adventures and romances. Exquisite attention to musical detail and the band’s deep passion for the original recordings is evident in each performance. Named for the model of cornet played by the enigmatic genius Bix Beiderbecke, the New Wonders craft each song as if it were a 78rpm record, and the result has been praised by Downbeat Magazine and the New York Times.

Inspired by the noble jazz pioneers Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and their colleagues, David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band breathes life and passion into America’s own great art form. Legendary record producer George Avakian describes the band in this way: “There has never been a band quite like this one. Most groups, past and present, stick to one style. Some current groups attempt to recreate early recordings in their entirety. These guys do neither. Inspired by divergent bands of the 1920s and 30s, you’ll hear them swing a variety of styles in music by a wide range of composers, always true to the joy and heart of the music.”

Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks was formed out of Giordano’s passion for music from the 1920’s & 30’s and the people that made it. He has amassed an amazing collection of over 60,000 band arrangements, 1920’s and 30’s films, 78 recordings and jazz-age memorabilia. Giordano sought out and studied with important survivors from the period; Whiteman’s hot arranger Bill Challis and drummer Chauncey Morehouse, as well as bassist Joe Tarto among others. Giordano’s passion, commitment to authenticity, and knowledge led him to create a sensational band of like-minded players, the Nighthawks. For over 40 years, Vince Giordano has single handedly kept alive a wonderful genre of American music that continues to spread the joy and pathos of an era that shaped our nation. On this concert, Vince will be playing performances of jazz artists who were on 52nd St. in the 1930’s:  Rex Stewart, Coleman Hawkins, John Kirby and others.

Colin Hancock is making serious waves in the early jazz community. Hancock, a recent graduate of Cornell University, discovered the music of Bix Beiderbecke and the magic of hand-cranked phonographs at an early age. His fascination with old jazz records and the machines on which they were played was no passing childhood fad; his musical and mechanical interests, encouraged by his parents and teachers, persisted and intensified.

Many of this year’s festival artists were announced on February 11th and by going on our website, you will find the names of old friends and new faces.

See you at the Fort August 7-9, 2020. Don’t lose the beat.

 – George Wein