Keisha Slide
Keisha slide
NEA Jazz Master Lou Donaldson
Lou donaldson photo
Jimmy Owens: Musician and Supporter
Jimmy Owens: Musician and Supporter
Pay. Pension. Protection. Process. The time is now!
Pay. Pension. Protection. Process. Now’s the …
J4JA History
J4JA Video
J4JA Video

Jazz musicians playing in major
New York City clubs are not guaranteed fair pay, do not receive healthcare benefits and
often retire in poverty.

NYC’s Birdland, Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Iridium, the Jazz Standard and the Village Vanguard refuse to pay into a pension fund that would allow jazz artists to retire with dignity. Sign the petition below and tell the club owners to do right by the musicians who make them rich. Local 802 American Federation of Musicians
J4JA Endorsers:
  Prominent Musicians   •   Jason Moran   •   Christian McBride   •   Ron Carter   •   Jimmy Owens   •   Marc Ribot   •   Jimmy Cobb   •   Harry Belafonte   •   Joe Lovano   •   John Pizzarelli   •   Bucky Pizzarelli   •   Dave Liebman   •   Kenny Barron   •   Fred Hersch   •   Bertha Hope   •   Bernard Purdie   •   Bob Cranshaw   •   Lakecia Benjamin   •   Bobby Sanabria   •   Randy Weston   •   Billy Harper   •   Janet Lawson   •   Wycliffe Gordon   •   Dr. Larry Ridley   •   Gene Perla   •   Seth MacFarlane   •   Rufus Reid   •   Andrew Lamb   •   James Spaulding   •   Phil Woods   •   Akua Dixon   •   David Amram   •   Ed MacEachen   •   Butch Miles   •   Charli Persip   •   Kenny Davis   •   Junior Mance   •   Charles Tolliver   •   Keisha St. Joan   •   Regina Carter   •   James Carter   •   Judi Silvano   •   Papo Vasquez   •   Paquito D’ Rivera   •   Chris Walden   •   Tom "Bones" Malone   •   Lou Donaldson   •   Billy Kaye   •   Roy Campbell   •   Harold Mabern   •   Dr. Lewis Porter   •   Mala Waldron   •   Michael Abene   •   "Sweet" Sue Terry   •   Ron Jackson   •   Steven Bernstein   •   Douglas Purviance   •   Ras Moshe   •   Patience Higgins   •   James Chirillo   •   Saul Rubin   •   Bobby Shankin   •   Bill Kirchner   •   Jay Leonhart   •   Rachel Z   •   Bill Frisell   •   Joe Temperley   •   Jerry Dodgion   •   Russell Malone   •   Jay Brandford   •   Steve Davis   •   Carol Sudhalter   •   John Mosca   •   Alicia Hall Moran   •   Shari Belafonte   •   Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi   •   Sean Smith   •   Ivan Renta   •   Bobby LaVell   •   Jon Owens   •   Gary Smulyan   •   Melvin Gibbs   •   Onaje Allan Gumbs   •   Dick Griffin   •   Dale Turk   •   Bill Crow   •   Marsha Heydt   •   Cleave Guyton   •   Francesca Tanksley   •   Elisabeth Lohninger   •   Rory Stuart   •   Charles Bartlett   •   Armen Donelian   •   Ray Blue   •   Buster Williams   •   Ulysses Owens, Jr.   •   Steve Johns   •   Daryl Johns   •   Terence Blanchard   •   Supporters in Memoriam   •   Carline Ray   •   Hank Jones   •   Dr. Billy Taylor   •   Benny Powell   •   Amiri Baraka   •   Gaudencio Thiago de Mello   •   Jazz Organizations   •   Jazz Foundation of America   •   Andy Kirk Research Foundation   •   Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium   •   Jazz Bridge   •   Educational Institutions   •   New School Jazz Department Faculty Committee   •   Rutgers-Newark Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research   •   The Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at the University of the District of Columbia   •   Writers, Journalist and Educators   •   Martin Mueller   •   Stanley Crouch   •   Gary Giddins   •   Nat Hentoff   •   Dan Morgenstern   •   John Chilton   •   Dr. Judith Schlesinger   •   Emilie Pons   •  
Elected Officials   •   NY City Council Members James Van Bramer (D-26, Queens)   •   Corey D. Johnson (D-3, Manhattan)   •   Laurie A. Cumbo (D-35, Brooklyn)   •   I. Daneek Miller (D-27, Queens)   •   Robert Cornegy (D-36, Brooklyn)   •   Mark Levine (D-7, Manhattan)   •   Deborah Rose (Staten Island)   •   Stephen Levin (D-33, Brooklyn)   •   Costa G. Constantinides (D-22, Queens)   •   Brad Lander (D-39, Brooklyn)   •   Daniel R. Garodnick (D-4, Manhattan)   •   Jumaane D. Williams (D-45, Brooklyn)   •   Antonio Reynoso (D-34 Brooklyn)   •   Elizabeth S. Crowley (D-30, Queens)  •   Speaker of NY City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-8, Manhattan)   •   NY State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-27)   •   NY State Senator Kevin Parker (D-21)   •   NY State Senator Jose Peralta (D-13)   •   NY State Senator Liz Krueger (D-28)   •   NY State Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D-67th Assembly District)   •   NY State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (D-75th Assembly District)   •   NY State Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-66th Assembly District)   •   US Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), US Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)   •   US Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY)   •   NY City Comptroller Scott Stringer   •   Public Advocate Letitia James   •   Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer   •   The Honorable David N. Dinkins   •   106th Mayor of NY City   •   William Thompson, NY City Comptroller 2002-2009   •   Religious Organizations & Leaders: Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director   •   Jazz Ministry at St. Peter’s Church, Amandus J. Derr, Senior Pastor   •   Pastor Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor at First Corinthian Baptist Church   •   Rev. Nat Dixon, Pastor at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church   •   Dr. Cornel West   •   Labor   •   New York Central Labor Council   •   American Federation of Musicians, Ray Hair ’ President; Sam Folio ’ Secretary-Treasurer   •   Local 802, Associated Musicians of Greater New York   •   Local 802 Jazz Advisory Committee   •   Local 802 Theater Committee   •   NY State United Teachers   •   CUNY Professional Staff Congress   •   Actor's Equity Association   •   Communications Workers of America - District 1   •   Communications Workers of America - Local 1109   •   Central New Mexico Central Labor Council   •   ACT-UAW Local 7902, Emily Barnett, President   •  

News & Events


Saxophonist and Justice for Jazz Artists supporter Phil Woods has previously made strong, principled statements in the press regarding the need for fairer compensation structures for hard-working sidemen in thriving New York City jazz clubs. This is why we weren’t surprised at a recent and even more bold statement showing solidarity with club musicians all over the City.

In a recent edition of his “Phil in the Gap” column in the spring/summer issue of East Stroudsburg University’s The Note, Phil said:

I have decided I cannot in good conscience work in NY jazz clubs until they initiate the paltry sum Local 802 is asking them to put into a pension plan for jazz musicians.  If we had one when I started I would be getting more than the $322 a month I now get.  The Union helped the clubs get a tax repealed and the clubs agreed to contributing to the pension fund.  Then they reneged!  Nice guys huh?  Please consider this when you get closer to the head of the line.

This is an extraordinary move in support of J4JA’s goals of fair pay, pension payments and protection of recording rights for sidemen in affluent NYC-area jazz institutions.


These musicians provide the lifeblood and product on which these clubs profit and yet they often struggle later in life because of the refusal of New York City’s most successful clubs to provide them with anything approaching fair compensation in return for that commitment.

Thanks Phil!

Click here to send a letter to club owners in support of these goals and to ask them to come to the table to discuss possible solutions to these problems.


J4JA Stages Successful March at Big Apple Block Party and Barbecue

Saturday, June 7—Justice for Jazz Artists staged a highly effective demonstration and march at the annual Big Apple Barbecue and Block Party, which is sponsored by Madison Square Park Conservancy and receives major funding from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG).

USHG owns and operates the club Jazz Standard.

Despite numerous attempts by J4JA to establish a dialogue on the subject of pensions for musicians who work the 20140607_112115club, Meyer and USHG/Jazz Standard have ignored letters (including one penned by Ron Carter, Jimmy Owens, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Bob Cranshaw, Jason Moran and Christian McBride) and left J4JA’s phone calls and emails unanswered.

“We are marching today,” said AFM Recording VP John O’Connor, “to remind Danny Meyer and other club owners that the needs of the jazz community are real—dozens of jazz artists retire every year in this town with nothing in the bank—and if USHG/Jazz Standard is as community minded they purport themselves to be, then they should do the decent thing and sit down with the musicians.”

At the march, a six piece brass band playing New Orleans street beat favorites like “Little Liza Jane,” “Down by the Riverside” and “I’ve Found a New Baby” mesmerized hundreds of patrons who came out to sample barbecue and enjoy the park.

Supporters passed out leaflets with slogans such as “Danny Meyer is Living High on the Hog while Jazz Musicians Have No Retirement” and “Help Jazz Musicians Bring Home the Bacon; Tell Danny Meyer to Meet with J4JA.”

At one point, a volunteer working on behalf of Meyer’s barbecue restaurant Blue Smoke appeared with a tray of freshly grilled pork sausages. J4JA musicians and supporters rejected the offer, instead asking for dialogue with Meyer and his board of directors.

NYPD officers also appeared and asked the group to leave the area, citing lack of a sound permit. But union officials from AFM, Local 802 were on hand and reminded police that permits are only necessary for amplified groups, which the brass band was not, and that J4JA was exercising their constitutional rights to free speech by marching. NYPD relented and allowed the march to continue.

Pig Man

Photo courtesy of Ken Goodman Photography

Danny Meyer’s USHG owns such fashionable and celebrated NYC establishments such as Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, the Modern, and the Blue Smoke chain, which operates concessions at CitiField and at Saratoga Race Track. But USHG’s main source of income comes from Shake Shack, it’s wildly successful chain of fast food restaurants. Shack Shack operates in dozens of locations in the US and abroad, with outposts in London, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Istanbul. Madison Square Park is the home of flagship location of Shake Shack, which opened in 2004.

USHG does not share financial information, but their annual gross assets were estimated in 2010 to be in the neighborhood of $430 million.

Pension for jazz musicians at Jazz Standard would cost less than $100,000 annually.


Help Jazz Musicians Bring Home the Bacon!

Justice for Jazz Artists
March and Demonstration with Live Brass Band
Madison Square Park 23rd/B’dway, NYC
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 7, 201411AM-1PM

Tell Danny Meyer that jazz musicians deserve the same benefits
afforded to classical and Broadway musicians!

· Meyer is the CEO of the company that owns the JAZZ STANDARD club, in addition to
dozens of restaurants all over the world (including Shake Shack).

· Despite his success, he has refused to guarantee basic working standards such as pension benefits and recording rights for the musicians who appear at JAZZ STANDARD.

· So far, he has refused to even meet with musicians to discuss these issues.

Cochon de ferme

CLICK HERE to sign our petition and send an email letting Danny Meyer know we mean business.


Trombonist Dick Griffin Endorses J4JA!

Dick Griffin, one of today’s leading trombone players, has endorsed Justice for Jazz Artists.

In a career spanning over 40 years, he has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz and soul music, as well as appearing with several symphony orchestras. A short list of the luminaries with whom Mr. Griffin has worked includes: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tito Puente, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Isaac Hayes, Dionne Warwick, and Lionel Hampton.

Griffin has developed a highly personalized playing style which he calls “circularphonics.” His ability to combine dickgriffinplaying chords on the trombone with circular breathing is unrivaled among jazz trombonists. The expanded range of simultaneous sounds Griffin creates through his multiphonic technique sometimes evokes the spirit of such experimental jazz musicians as John Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Sun Ra. Never a follower, Griffin has moved beyond the course set by these pioneering giants to develop a unique style on and for an instrument which has hardly been the most widely used in modern jazz.

Griffin was born and reared in Jackson, Mississippi. It was in Chicago, however, when Griffin met avant garde jazz giant Sun Ra, that his professional career took off. He spent several summers in the mid-1960s playing with Sun Ra’s Arkestra. It was during this period that Griffin first met Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who would become a close friend. After moving to New York City in 1967, Griffin made his recording debut with Kirk on the album “The Inflated Tear.” As a member of the “Vibration Society,” Griffin notated and transcribed music for the sightless Kirk. He went on to record several albums with Kirk, including “Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle,” “Rahsaan, Rahsaan,” “Left & Right,” and “Volunteered Slavery.” In the early 1970s, Griffin also played in a big band fronted by the great bassist and composer Charles Mingus. During this year-long association, Mingus provided priceless support by encouraging the young trombonist’s writing endeavors. Griffin also spent three years in the house band of the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, playing for nearly all the Motown greats, including The Temptations, James Brown and Nancy Wilson.

Additionally, Griffin is an accomplished composer and painter.

Click here to visit Mr. Griffin’s site to learn more about Mr. Griffin’s long career.

Welcome Dick Griffin!


J4JA Conducts First March of Spring!

The weather is warming up and Justice for Jazz Artists is marching on behalf of hard working jazz musicians in NYC. Working jazz musicians often end up struggling later in life due to lack of basic protections like fair pay scales, pensions and protections of recording rights.

J4JA will rally this Wednesday, a perfect opportunity for both new and returning J4JA supporters to “blow, Cat, blow”!

The J4JA Brass Band will provide a soundtrack to the struggle, and to show NYC jazz club owners what supporting musicians sounds like!

WHAT: Justice for Jazz Artists Rally and March
WHEN: Wednesday, May 28
WHERE: Madison Square Park, corner of 23rd Street and Broadway

Grab a friend and an instrument and join us to support those who make NYC swing!


Saxophonist Billy Harper Publicly Endorses Justice for Jazz Artists!

Saxophonist Billy Harper has publicly endorsed Justice for Jazz Artists’ mission in support of hard-working musicians around the City.

Harper, an internationally acknowledged star of the jazz saxophone, moved to New York in 1966 and soon began attracting attention from some of the giants of the genre – Gil Evans, Max Roach, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He performed, recorded and toured in Europe, Japan, Africa and throughout the United States from 1966 to 1979 with these groups, as well as with his own group, the Billy Harper Quintet.

The Billy Harper Quintet began receiving notoriety of its own. In 1966, Harper and his ensemble group were highlighted on the NBC-TV special, “The Big Apple.” With more exposure came bigger audiences and greater demand for live appearances.

Throughout Harper’s career, there has been a pattern of spiritual growth and innovation. Says Harper:

b“My feeling is that music should have a purpose. In the past, it always has been used for healing and uplifting and meditation. And that’s the way I see my music. I’ve had people come up after a program to tell me that they felt a spiritual healing from the music. When that happens, then I feel we’re fulfilling what we’re supposed to do. If people are entertained, that’s ok too. But I certainly see a purpose in my music beyond that.”

As a teacher and lecturer, Harper has taught at Livingston College, Rutgers University, and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He has also received a special grant from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts to teach improvisation at 15 high schools. Awards and honors included 3 Music Composition Grants; two from the National Endowment for the Arts, and one from the Creative Arts Program. He also received the International Critics Award for Tenor Saxophone for two years consecutively.

As a recording artist, Billy Harper’s album, “Black Saint” exploded on the international jazz scene in 1976. The reviews all applauded his innovations and prompted the Modern Jazz League of Tokyo to name the album, “Jazz Record of the Year – Voice Grand Prix.”

Welcome Billy Harper, and thanks for your commitment to securing a strong future for jazz and jazz musicians in New York City and beyond.



Guitarist Marc Ribot has officially endorsed Justice for Jazz Artists in our quest to win fair pay scales, protection of recording rights, pension payments and other basic security for hard working jazz musicians.

Mr. Ribot has released 19 albums under his own name over a 25-year career, exploring everything from the pioneering jazz of Albert Ayler to the Cuban son of Arsenio Rodríguez. His most recent release, from his trio with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor, features tunes written by Ayler and John Coltrane as well as some jazz standards.

In addition to leading his own groups, Ribot is known for his work in a wide variety of settings. Rolling Stone points out that “Guitarist Marc Ribot helped Tom Waits refine a new, weird Americana on 1985′s Rain Dogs, and since then he’s become the go-to guitar guy for all kinds of roots-music adventurers: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp.” Additional recording credits include Elton John/Leon Russell’s latest The Union, Solomon Burke, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Marianne Faithful, Joe Henry, Allen Toussaint, Medeski Martin & Wood, Caetono Veloso, Susana Baca, Allen Ginsburg, Madeline Peyroux, Nora Jones, Jolie Holland, Akiko Yano, The Black Keys, and many others. Marc works regularly with Grammy® award winning producer T Bone Burnett and NYC composer John Zorn. He has also performed on numerous film scores such as “Walk The Line,” “The Kids Are All Right,” and “The Departed.”


J4JA at May Day 2014!

Justice for Jazz Artists had a great May Day on Thursday. The J4JA brass band came out to play and march, and J4JA supporters joined labor groups from all over the City to celebrate International Workers Day. May 1 never fails to bring out hundreds of groups to march together for solidarity and against growing inequality, a condition now widely acknowledged in the mainstream of America’s political debate.

With your help, J4JA and its intrepid players took the streets on Thursday to join a huge coalition of workers’ rights groups to let the world know that we are still fighting. Justice for Jazz Artists asks for simple, achievable improvements for the lives of jazz musicians, who are so often forced to retire in poverty—on the part of affluent club owners who can afford to offer fair pay scales, modest pension contributions, and protection of recording rights. These are not monumental challenges, but will provide jazz musicians with desperately-needed security.

Check out these photos from the day’s events, and if you haven’t already, PLEASE sign our petition demanding justice for hard-working jazz musicians.

Photo credit for all: Kate Glicksberg



Every year the Jazz Journalists Association names musicians, journalists and activists for excellence in their field. The musician winners for the 18th annual JJA Awards have been announced and many Justice for Jazz Artists supporters took home prizes! Congratulations to all of our supporters for winning awards for excellence in their craft, while also fighting for justice for working musicians!


Trio or Duo of the Year:
Randy Weston (with Billy Harper)



Multi-reeds Player of the Year & Tenor Saxophonist of the Year:
Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano


Baritone Saxophonist of the Year:
Gary Smulyan

© All rights reserved


Guitarist of the Year:
Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell


Bassist of the Year:
Christian McBride
Christian McBride


Violinist/Violist/Cellist of the Year: 
Regina Carter


Full the full list of 2014 winners HERE.




Justice for Jazz Artists is happy to announce that US Congressman Charles Rangel (D) of the 13th District of New York has publicly endorsed J4JA’s fight for fairness and justice for hardworking jazz musicians in New York City.Representative Charlie Rangel

Representative Rangel understands—along with our roster of prominent artists, activists and political and religious leaders—that jazz occupies a very special place in the cultural fabric of American and New York City history. He agrees we must do all we can to bring justice to the talented musicians who dedicate their lives to carrying the torch of this true American art form.

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition and send a message to affluent club owners that you, along with Rep. Rangel and our many prominent supporters, demand fairness and justice for NYC jazz musicians.



Representative Rangel’s statement in support of J4JA:

Jazz is at the heart of Harlem’s cultural heritage and the skilled musicians who live and work in our community deserve the same protections as everyone else. That’s why I strongly demand fair pay, good benefits and unemployment insurance for these workers. The men and women who bring life to our nation’s cultural center should not go broke or go hungry, and I’m proud to fight and stand up for the justice they deserve.



Older posts «

» Newer posts