“He [Wein] never predicted the festival's impact—no one had set up a commercial stage in a field before and there was huge press coverage—especially of the last day, when it poured with rain and photos of 5,000 people on a field listening to jazz under their umbrellas ran around the world.” explains the Financial Times in an article on Wein’s life. “Wein's first bill included Billie Holiday re-uniting with Lester Young and, innovatively, had traditionalists and modernists sharing the same bill. ‘It was like a convention of the whole jazz world,’ he [Wein] said. ‘Everybody came: managers, agents, the press, the critics.’
Since that initial event, it has not only become an annual must-see for jazz enthusiasts, but also became the blueprint for pretty much all future open air jazz festivals. And, of course, has played host to some historic performances from many of the greats of jazz. From Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Horace Silver, Nina Simone, and Duke Ellington. It even helped launch careers of legends like Miles Davis. Many of the artists’ performances were also recorded and have become classic live albums.