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Jazz & Heritage Center Grand Opening Concert

Jazz & Heritage Center Grand Opening Concert

George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center Grand Opening Concert

After years of planning and many months of construction, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation will celebrate the grand opening of the new George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center with a gala concert on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.

The event will feature music by saxophonist Edward "Kidd" Jordan, who founded the Jazz & Heritage Foundation's Don "Moose" Jamison Heritage School of Music in 1990. Joining him onstage will be four of his musical children: Kent (flute), Marlon (trumpet), Stephanie (voice) and Rachel Jordan (violin). The concert begins at 8 p.m.

The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center is located at 1225 N. Rampart Street - adjacent to the Jazz & Heritage Foundation offices - and was purchased by the foundation in 2008. After extensive planning, the foundation decided to use the space as the first permanent home of its Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music, a free program that has operated on local university campuses since its inception. It will also serve as a community center.

Tickets to the grand opening concert are free, but seating is limited so advance registration was required. All advance registrations have now been filled. Additional seating will be avaiable to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Overflow rooms with live audio and video of the concert also will be available for those who arrive late or otherwise are not able to find seats in the auditorium.

After nearly two years of renovations, the historic building that houses the Jazz & Heritage Center is poised to become a state-of-the-art education and community center. It will be the permanent home of our Heritage School of Music and will serve as the location for many programs and events produced by the Jazz & Heritage Foundation. It also will be available for other community arts organizations for classes and events. The building has seven classrooms (including dedicated labs for piano and drums) and a 200-seat performance hall.

The Jazz & Heritage Center is named in honor of George Wein and his late wife Joyce, the pioneering festival producers who helped to launch the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (which is owned by the Jazz & Heritage Foundation) in 1970.

“George and Joyce Wein have done so much to benefit our community and our culture,” said Demetric Mercadel, president of the Festival and Foundation board of directors. “It is only fitting that we recognize their many contributions by having their names grace this wonderful new facility. This is a true testament to their legacy.”

George Wein grew up in Boston  and became a professional jazz pianist while still a teenager. In 1950, he opened a jazz club called Storyville, named after the New Orleans red light district.

In 1954, Wein was invited by Louis and Elaine Lorillard to Newport, Rhode Island. They funded the resulting Newport Jazz Festival, created by Wein - the first outdoor jazz festival in the United States, which established the model for every major festival that followed.

Joyce Alexander was writing a jazz column for the Simmons College student newspaper when she met Wein in 1947. After graduating college at the age of 19, she started her career as a biochemist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and later worked in New York at Columbia Medical School.

Joyce and George married in 1959, after which she gave up her scientific career and became vice president of their company, Festival Productions, Inc., and a partner with George in all of their business ventures. She passed away in 2005 at age 76.

New Orleans business and tourism leaders first contacted George Wein about starting a festival here in 1962. It took eight years (including two years of attempts to establish a festival without them) but in 1970 George and Joyce’s Festival Productions was named the producer of the “New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Louisiana Heritage Fair,” which debuted on April 22 of that year.

It was George Wein who insisted that the festival would be centered at Congo Square, would focus on New Orleans music and heritage, and would have as much emphasis on food and art as it would on music – values that still haven’t changed.

Wein was happy that it was a nonprofit enterprise; the festival would be owned by a new foundation with a mission to use the festival’s proceeds for year-round preservation of the city’s musical culture.

The same year, historian Richard Allen of Tulane University’s Hogan Jazz Archive introduced Wein to a young man named Quint Davis and his then-girlfriend Allison Miner. Both would become key organizers of the early festivals, with Quint going on to become the festival’s producer/director and head of Festival Productions’ New Orleans office. He remains the chief architect of Jazz Fest to this day.

Although the festival got off to a slow start, it moved from Congo Square to the Fair Grounds in 1972, gradually gaining steam until the mid-’70s, when it began to assert its potential as a cultural and financial cornerstone for its home city.

The Dec. 12 concert will feature an opening set by students and faculty of the Heritage School of Music, starting at 8 p.m. After that, Kidd Jordan and his children (and accompanying musicians) will perform a 90-minute set.

The performance will be live streamed on the web site of the Jazz & Heritage Foundation's radio station, WWOZ (

About the Performers:

Edward “Kidd” Jordan
Kidd Jordan is acclaimed internationally as one of the true master improvisers in modern music. Indie Jazz aptly describes Kidd as a genteel man who is probably the single most under-documented jazz musician of his generation. Jordan was recognized as a jazz maverick back in the 1940s, intent on exploring jazz-rooted music's outer reaches. In recognition of his great musical achievements, knighthood was bestowed on him by the Republic of France, where he holds the title Chevalier des Artes et Lettres.

This virtuoso has unselfishly shared his gift of and passion for music for more than 50 years, 36 of which he spent at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) until he retired in 2006 as head of the jazz studies program. So significant has his work been that his achievements were documented by CBS’ “60 Minutes,” and he was honored with Offbeat magazine's first Lifetime Achievement Award for Music Education.  In 2013 he was selected as recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association 'Jazz Hero' award.

In 1990, Kidd approached the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation with a request to support free, weekly jazz lessons for kids who were not getting the music instruction in their schools that they wanted. The Foundation agreed, and the Kidd became the founding director of the Foundation’s signature music education program, the Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music.

The list of musicians and singers Kidd has performed and recorded with is long and replete with the cream of jazz, soul, R&B and rock. From Aretha Franklin to REM, Cannonball Adderley to Ornette Coleman, Ray Charles to Sun Ra, Kidd has performed with a who's who of music. He was an influence in the beginning of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and a major force in the formation of the World Saxophone Quartet, both of whom he has performed with. With Alvin Fielder and Clyde Kerr, Jr., he formed the Improvisational Arts Quintet.

Kidd Jordan has a long and abiding commitment to jazz education and many of today's top jazz musicians - including Terence Blanchard, Marsalis brothers, Marlon Jordan, Nicholas Payton, Trombone Shorty and many others - have benefited from his tutelage.

Kent Jordan
Flutist Kent Jordan is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music in Performance on the flute.   Kent presently heads the music department at Lusher Charter School, an arts intensive program in New Orleans.

Kent also teaches the big band and flute curriculums at the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp. As former Chair of the Music Department at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA), Kent has cultivated many students, such as Christian Scott, Troy Andrews and Devin Phillips.

Kent has performed and recorded as a sideman with the likes of Alvin Batiste, Kevin Eubanks, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis and the legendary Elvin Jones. This accomplished flautist has been performing professionally since 1969, when he was a soloist with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. Kent has released three albums on the Columbia label: “No Question,” “Night Aire” and “Essence.”  His latest album, “Out of This World,” was release on his own label, Funshanel Art Media.

Marlon Jordan
Marlon Jordan was one of the “young lions" of jazz who were signed, recorded and promoted on major record labels in the 1980s. He recorded three impressive LPs for Columbia from 1998 to 1992 – “For You Only,” “Learson's Return” and “The Undaunted,” and one for the Arabesque label entitled “Marlon's Mode” in 1997.

His latest album, which features Stephanie Jordan, “You Don't Know What Love Is,” announces the return of this exceptional trumpeter.  This dancing and delicious document reveals a mature artist who sounds like himself.  You can hear Jordan's clean, boppish lines laced with power, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire jazz trumpet tradition, signed in own unique sonic signature.

An accomplished classical musician as well, Marlon has performed as a soloist with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. But his true joy is his constant performance in the streets and nightclubs of New Orleans and Brazil. Marlon graduated from the famed NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts).

Rachel Jordan
Rachel Jordan is a Professor of Violin at Jackson State University, a member of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, Texas, and a member of the Carter Rachel Jordan Quartet at Loyola University in New Orleans.  Rachel has served as adjunct faculty at Xavier University, Southern University, and Dillard University in New Orleans.  Ms. Jordan was also a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans for 12 years.

Rachel received both her Bachelor of Music and her Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with Berl Senofsky.

Rachel is also the founder and artistic director of the Music Alive Ensemble, a classical and jazz ensemble of musicians, composers and arrangers. She has been a featured performer at the Kennedy Center, Mozart Festival in Salzburg, Austria, the Music Center of Houston and the Mozart Festival in Washington, D.C. Jordan also performed with Jackson State University Orchestra for the Congressional Black Caucus’ Inauguration Ceremony for President Barack Obama.

In 2011, Rachel produced "Christmas with the New Orleans Ladies of Jazz: I Saw Three Ships," a holiday album that features Germaine Bazzle, Leah Chase and Stephanie Jordan performing with the Music Alive Ensemble.  Rachel also performs on and is the executive producer of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” the Marlon Jordan record that features Stephanie Jordan.

Stephanie Jordan
Vocalist Stephanie Jordan is consistently praised for her poise, elegance and soulful articulation. She draws frequent comparisons to her inspirations, the legendary jazz singers Shirley Horn, Abbey Lincoln, Lena Horne and Carmen McRae. Critics have also likened Ms. Jordan to jazz stars Diana Krall and Nancy Wilson.

Stephanie's current show continues her signature trademark of singing jazz standards from the Big Band era. It includes highlights from her self-produced debut CD on her Vige Music label, "Stephanie Jordan Sings A Tribute to the Fabulous Lena Horne: Yesterday When I Was Young."

She has had the honor of performing in the presence of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as having sung with Stevie Wonder during the National Urban League's 2012 National Conference. Jordan performed for the private celebration 'Oprah Winfrey and Friends of Susan Taylor,' and she sang the National Anthem for the NBA All-Star Game.

Following hurricane Katrina, Stephanie and Marlon served as US Jazz Ambassadors on a European Tour to Bucharest, Germany, Lithuania and Ukraine on behalf of the U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Stephanie has performed on other stellar stages, including the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Chicago's Harris Theater, the Marians Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland, Baton Rouge’s Manship Theatre and the inaugural International Jazz Day, which was celebrated by millions worldwide during an all-star sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.