[Dixielandjazz] Tough Times For NYC and Newport Jazz Festivals
Stephen G Barbone
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 25 06:29:02 PDT 2009
Perhaps the last sentence is the most important, concerning jazz
"festivals" in NYC? Given the ongoing jazz events of all genres, they
don't need one, OKOM or otherwise.
March 25, 2009 - NY TIMES - by Ben Sisario
Clash of Jazz Impresarios in New York and Newport
Will New York have a major jazz festival this summer?
It depends on whom you ask. Festival Network, which has presented the
JVC Jazz Festival for the past two years, says it will. But concert
promoters, booking agents and others in the jazz world say that
because of the economy and a rift between Festival Network and the
impresario George Wein, it is possible that New York will lack a big
festival for the first time in 37 years.
In 2007 Mr. Wein, 83, sold his company, Festival Productions — which
produced the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, the jazz and folk
festivals in Newport, R.I., and many others — to Festival Network,
which continued to employ him as a producer-emeritus.
But Mr. Wein said that he had not been paid since November, and Rhode
Island authorities said that they canceled Festival Network’s contract
to present events at Fort Adams State Park, the festival’s longtime
home, because of late payments.
Muddying the water for jazz fans, Mr. Wein and Chris Shields, the
chairman of Festival Network, said they were presenting events in
Newport and New York.
On Tuesday Mr. Wein said he would be putting on jazz and folk
festivals in Newport under his own name, with no connection to
Festival Network. He is seeking sponsors for the events, but said he
would back them himself if none came through.
“We believe that Newport has to be saved, one way or the other,” Mr.
But in an e-mail message Mr. Shields said, “We view George Wein’s
effort to ensure the legacy of music festivals in Newport as
complementary with FN’s own effort to produce the Newport Jazz and
Newport Folk festivals, the trademarks of which we control.”
George Wein’s Folk Festival 50 is to take place July 31 to Aug. 2, and
George Wein’s Jazz Festival 55 will run Aug. 7 to 9.
In addition, the fate of the JVC festival in New York, which usually
happens in June, is unclear. Festival Network owns the rights to it,
and Mr. Shields said he intended to put on a New York jazz festival in
2009. Mr. Wein, in turn, said he had booked a handful of dates at
Carnegie Hall in June, including two nights with Diana Krall, but that
without a major sponsor he could not afford to host a full-scale
A Carnegie Hall spokeswoman confirmed that a number of dates were
being held in June under Mr. Wein’s name, but none for Festival
Network. A spokesman for JVC, which has sponsored many of Mr. Wein’s
and Festival Network’s events around the world, declined to comment on
whether the company would be sponsoring any of the festivals this year.
Regardless, it may be too late. Scott Southard, who represents dozens
of jazz and world-music acts, said he and other booking agents were
“operating with the assumption that it’s not going to happen.”
Festival dates are usually secured by January, he said, and since a
New York event looked unlikely, many big tours will be bypassing New
“Artists who are capable of selling Carnegie Hall-level shows have
suddenly had one of the cornerstone events pulled out of the booking
season,” Mr. Southard said.
Mr. Wein said that he felt more obliged to preserve the Newport
festivals than the one in New York, where jazz fans have plenty of
events to choose from. The Vision Festival, for one, will present
avant-garde music, dance and poetry for a 14th year in June.
“I’m not necessary in New York,” Mr. Wein said. “New York’s a jazz
festival all year long.”
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