1975 – 1995
The Festival has been held annually since 1970, when it was founded by the New Orleans Hotel Motel Association, to form “the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation” that owns the Festival. George Wein’s “Festival Productions, Inc” was contracted to produce the Festival. Wein was the producer of the Newport Jazz Festival (1954) and the Newport Folk Festival (1959) in Newport, Rhode Island.
To produce the Festival in New Orleans, Wein put together a key group of artistic advisers, among them Ellis Marsalis, Richard B. “Dick” Allen and Harry Souchon. Dick Allen, the curator of Tulane University’s Hogan Jazz Archives, recommended Archive employee Allison Miner and intern Quint Davis to Wein to help produce the first festival. Both Miner and Davis knew a great deal about jazz. They went to the black clubs to recruit performers, rather than to Bourbon Street or other tourist destinations, because it was at these clubs that live music was being produced. The first person the pair booked was Snooks Eaglin, who was a street singer at the time, and who performed at the festival every year thereafter. Both volunteered for the “labor of love” that was the festival, and were not compensated. After Wein established the Festival, Miner and Davis oversaw the day-to-day operations of Festival Productions Inc.-New Orleans for many years, under the supervision of Wein and the Foundation Board. Quint Davis currently holds the position of CEO of Festival Productions, Inc.- New Orleans, while Miner is largely credited with the founding the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive. AEG Live became a co-producer of the festival in 2004.