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Taking his place among the 'stars'

The Saratoga Jazz Festival was the "roots" of the Montreal festival, which Wein later established, too.

"There wasn't a Montreal festival, so we used to draw a lot of people from Canada," said Wein.

Besides an ideal demographic and geographic area, Wein said a large-scale jazz event was something the region lacked.

"It was a relaxed music. You had great classical festivals up there with the orchestra and ballet, but I think it was a change of pace," said Wein. "The same people that went to those other events also came to the jazz. It enriched their lives and added something to their lives."

Saratoga Jazz Festival has boasted the biggest names in jazz, making it a festival renowned around the world. Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillepsie, Lionel Hampton, Chick Corea, Diana Krall and dozens of other greats graced the SPAC stage each summer.

Wein said the festival has been around so long that he's been able to witness how jazz changed"and stayed the same"over time.

"Jazz was affected by the rock generation. At one time, jazz was the music of those people who didn't accept pop music. Jazz changed when rock came in because society accepted pop culture then," said Wein. "That changed the dimensions of jazz. In one respect, it became more involved with soft and electronic jazz, but it also became a more personal art form of people playing music and not worrying too much about the public."

Wein is a jazz pianist and has found himself playing alongside some of the biggest icons. Following his star dedication on June 25, he'll take the stage and perform for the crowd with his touring group, the Newport All-Stars.

"I am looking forward to performing with Howard Alden, Lew Tabackin, Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Lewis Nash and Peter Washington and sharing my 85th birthday celebration with SPAC and the wonderful Saratoga audience," said Wein.

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