After more than 60 years at the helm, Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein has named his successor. The festival this week named Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride as its new artistic director.
Wein began what would become one of the world’s most important jazz festivals in 1954. That very first bill included jazz legends Billie Holiday, and Dizzie Gillespie.
McBride will work alongside Wein, and eventually take his place.
Producer, Jay Sweet says despite its historic nature the festival must work to reach new audiences.
“It doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels, and just know that people will just naturally fall in – younger people in particular,” said Sweet. “We have to go out and let them know that there’s a home for them in Newport.”
Sweet said the new hire brings a new opportunity to for outreach.
“Really expanding our audience of jazz lovers, and really focusing on bringing in new people who love jazz with our initiative with schools and student programs.”
Sweet said ticket sales are already up compared with last year.