Jazz Musicians to Protest at Six Top NYC Jazz Clubs Tonight!


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“Justice for Jazz Artists" asks profitable jazz clubs to contribute to musician pensions; Launches new ad campaign, social media program and website: justiceforjazzartists.org

NEW YORK, NY: The top jazz artists in the world live and work in New York City—yet many older jazz musicians are forced to retire in poverty. Even those musicians who play in the most prestigious and profitable jazz clubs are denied basic benefits and pensions. While musicians who play on Broadway and in symphony orchestras are protected by union contracts, jazz musicians are not. The Justice for Jazz Artists campaign seeks to work with clubs to ensure that jazz musicians receive fair pay, modest pension contributions, protection of their recording rights and a reasonable process for addressing grievances.

Though the top jazz clubs in New York City profit greatly from the musicians that bring in their customers, they have refused to work with musicians to address pensions or any other work-related issues. This is despite the fact that in 2007 the Justice for Jazz Artists (J4JA) campaign helped New York City jazz club owners to successfully lobby the State Legislature to waive the sales tax on admission charges, with the express understanding that a portion of this savings would be directed toward a modest pension contribution on behalf of musicians. Since the law's passage, not one club has made any pension fund contributions.

“Several efforts have been made to engage the clubs in being part of the solution, without success," says Ron Carter, Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist. “Now it is time for jazz fans to let the clubs know that exploiting jazz artists is no way to show respect for the men and women who fill their venues and sustain this great American art form."

J4JA Launches New Website, Social Media Sites and Ad Campaign

Today, Justice for Jazz Artists launched a new website that allows site visitors to sign a petition and send emails directly to club owners. The site is accompanied by social media—Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.

J4JA also began a major ad campaign that strikes at the heart of the issue. Adjacent to the hands of an elderly jazz pianist are displayed the words: “Older jazz musicians are living in poverty while jazz club owners are getting rich." These ads will appear online and in print in a range of publications covering jazz.

Protest Expands to Six Major NYC Clubs

Tonight, the campaign will expand its grassroots awareness-raising efforts, handing out leaflets between 7pm and 10pm at six major New York City jazz clubs—Birdland (315 West 44th St. New York, NY 10036), the Blue Note (131 West 3rd St. New York, NY 10012), Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (33 West 60th St. New York, NY 10023), the Iridium (1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019), the Jazz Standard (116 E 27th St. New York, NY 10016) and the Village Vanguard (178 7th Ave S. New York, NY 10014).

“All we are asking is for club owners to agree to sit down and discuss a viable solution to a situation that they should frankly be ashamed of," said John O'Connor, Recording Vice President of Local 802 AFM. “Making these minimal contributions to a pension fund would show they truly value the hardworking and skilled musicians who bring patrons through the doors of their clubs every single night—and who deserve to retire with dignity."

Founded in 1997 by the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, Justice for Jazz Artists enjoys the support of prominent jazz musicians including Ron Carter, Jimmy Owens, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Dave Liebman, Bertha Hope, Bernard Purdie, Bob Cranshaw, Randy Weston, Janet Lawson, Wycliffe Gordon, Kenny Davis, Dr. Larry Ridley, Gene Perla, Rufus Reid, James Spaulding, Phil Woods, David Amram, Ed MacEachen, Butch Miles, Charli Persip, Carline Ray, Kenny Davis, Junior Mance, Charles Tolliver, Keisha St. Joan, Regina Carter, James Carter, David Amram, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Judi Silvano, Nicholas Payton, Jason Moran. The late musicians Hank Jones, Dr. Billy Taylor and Benny Powell also were passionate J4JA advocates.

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