The first outdoor jazz festival was a momentous event in music history. The Carnival of Swing, held on Randall Island, New York, is widely considered the first open-air jazz festival. It featured performances from some of the biggest names in swing music, including Duke Ellington and Count Basie orchestras and Stuff Smith. The Newport Jazz Festival is another iconic event in the jazz world.
Established in 1954 by socialite Elaine Lorillard and her husband Louis Lorillard, the festival has grown to become one of the most popular jazz events in the world. George Wein was hired to organize the first festival and bring jazz to Rhode Island. The first Jazz Festival took place between April 22 and 26, 1970, in Congo Square, then known as Beauregard Square, in Louis Armstrong Park. Despite its small attendance of 350 people, it was a momentous event that featured performances from Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Etta James and the Roots Band, the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Mos Def.
The 1957 Newport Jazz Festival was well documented by Verve Records, which released 12 albums of recorded performances. It was attended by some of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1973, two concerts were held at Fenway Park in Boston under the name of the Newport New England Jazz Festival. The festival also pioneered corporate sponsorship of music festivals during this time.
The Newport Jazz Festival has continued annually and increased in popularity over the years. It has been documented in films such as Jazz on a Summer's Day and George Wein's Folk Festival 50 and George Wein's Jazz Festival 55. Henriquez is one of the city's most interesting bandleaders and has been named “the most important Latin jazz artist in New York City today” by New York Latin Culture. The first outdoor jazz festival was a momentous event that changed the course of music history. It featured performances from some of the biggest names in swing music and has grown to become one of the most popular jazz events in the world.