George Wein, who is to live jazz what the late Bill Graham was to rock, will be honored Sept. 16 at the Jazz Legends Gala at Mission Ranch in Carmel, Calif. Clint Eastwood, that city’s most famous resident, will host with his wife Dina.
The event will take place on the eve of the 53rd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, the maiden voyage of which took place four years after the first Newport Jazz Festival, which Wein produced. (Newport eventually morphed into the JVC Jazz Festival in New York before Wein sold his Festival Productions to Shoreline Media in 2007). The 84-year-old impresario, considered the godfather of music festivals, also helped spearhead the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Playboy Jazz Fest.
Eastwood, of course, is a lifelong jazz fan and the director of the best biopic about a jazz figure, 1988’s “Bird.” Blue Note recording artist Dianne Reeves will be among the performers on hand. Past recipients of the Jazz Legends Award include Dave Brubeck (2007) and Gerald Wilson (2008).
The Wein gala should act as a splendid kickoff to what is shaping up to be a typically strong Monterey lineup, including Reeves, Chick Corea, Ahmad Jamal, Billy Childs, Roy Haynes and New York cabaret wunderkind Nellie McKay.