Carnegie Hall’s Shape of Jazz Series Honors an Icon

The Joyce and George T. Wein Shape of Jazz Series starts October 18

Founding producer George Wein at the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 5, 2017.

Carnegie Hall’s Shape of Jazz series takes the stage on October 18 under a slightly different name that honors one of the genre’s most famous impresarios. Now named the Joyce and George T. Wein Shape of Jazz, the series launches with a performance by teenaged pianist phenom Joey Alexander and his trio.

The series’ new namesake, George Wein, founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. His Newport Folk Festival followed a few years later in 1959. Additionally, the 94-year-old promoter and accomplished pianist is a founding producer of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The dedication, which is also named in honor of Wein’s late wife, was announced in 2018 following a $1 million donation from Wein, who has been a major supporter of jazz programming at Carnegie Hall for nearly 10 years. He’s currently an Honorary Trustee and served as a Carnegie Hall Trustee from 1994 to 2005.

Wein’s history as a producer of jazz concerts at Carnegie Hall dates back to 1972, when he temporarily relocated the Newport Jazz Festival from its Rhode Island home to New York City. He went on to produce nearly 450 events there over the next four decades, featuring world-renowned artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Roy Haynes, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, and many more.

“George Wein has been a central and defining part of Carnegie Hall’s jazz history for close to fifty years, dedicated to bringing top artists, both established names and rising stars, to New York audiences,” Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director, said after last year’s announcement. “We are grateful for George’s musical counsel over the years and are deeply appreciative for the dedication and support that he and his late wife, Joyce, have shown to Carnegie Hall and its mission.”

Wein celebrated his 94th birthday in October and has continued to make key contributions through the years. In 2010, he founded Newport Festivals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support the legacy and expand the impact of the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the traditions inherent in jazz and folk music.  

The October 18 performance by Joey Alexander starts at 9 p.m. in Zankel Hall. Tickets cost $50-$65. Other performers in this year’s series include Artemis (December 7), the Lionel Loueke Trio (December 13), Bria Skonberg (February 14), Kurt Rosenwinkel (March 21), and Theo Croker & Big Brother (April 25).

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For more information or tickets, visit https://www.carnegiehall.org/en/Events/Jazz.