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   •   Ron Carter   •   Jimmy Owens   •   Joe Lovano   •   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   •   Seth MacFarlane   •   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   •   Judi Silvano   •   Jason Moran   •   Supporters in Memoriam   •   Hank Jones   •   Dr. Billy Taylor   •   Jazz Organizations   •   Jazz Foundation of America   •   Andy Kirk Research Foundation   •   Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium   •   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 and Journalists   •   Amiri Baraka   •   Stanley Crouch   •   Gary Giddins   •   Nat Hentoff   •   Dr. Lewis Porter   •   Dan Morgenstern   •   John Chilton   •  

News & Events


Grammy nominated NEA Jazz Master, Pianist, and educator Kenny Barron has signed on to support the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign!

Barron started playing as a teenager and at age 19 moved to New York City and freelanced with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody. Dizzy Gillespie hired Barron for his Quartet on the recommendation of Moody without ever hearing him play.

Kenny played briefly in The Jazztet and was co-leader of Sphere (playing with longtime Thelonious Monk Kenny Barroncollaborator Charlie Rouse) and Classical Jazz Quartet. Over the years he has played alongside Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich, Stan Getz and many others.

Barron was honored in 2010 by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master, was inducted to the American Jazz Hall of Fame and was elected as Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Barron is also an educator. He taught piano and keyboard harmony at Rutgers University for years and currently teaches at the Juilliard School of Music.

Kenny’s endorsement follows an exciting week of news for our burgeoning campaign. Last Wednesday, legendary musicians and politicians spoke out on behalf of the campaign’s goals for economic security for working jazz musicians in prestigious NYC-area clubs. The campaign received coverage in the New York Times, Village Voice, New York Daily News and New York Post, among many others.

Justice for Jazz Artists is honored to welcome such a seasoned professional to the ranks of our musician endorsers. Welcome Kenny!



Justice for Jazz Artists took the fight to New York City Hall today.

Supporters gathered this morning to testify before the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations in support of City Council Resolution 207 A, a resolution sponsored by City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer, Laurie Cumbo and Corey Johnson supporting the Justice for Jazz Artists Campaign and its attempts to gain justice for jazz musicians in New York City.

For many years, the top jazz artists in the world have lived and worked regularly in New York City, yet many older jazz musicians are forced to retire in poverty. Even those musicians who play frequently 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. And though the top jazz clubs in New York City profit greatly from the musicians that bring in their customers, they have repeatedly refused to work with musicians to address pensions or any other work-related issues.

Justice for Jazz Artist is dedicated to changing this, and Mr. Van Bramer, Ms. Cumbo and Mr. Johnson have moved things forward by introducing this resolution. At the hearing, Council Members heard testimony from legendary musicians Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Cobb, Bob Cranshaw, Keisha St. Joan, Bertha Hope, Gene Perla, John Mosca and other supporters.

Trumpeter, educator and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Owens said: “If the clubs had implemented this plan five years ago, there would already have been up to $3 million dollars redirected into a fund for musicians. That money would have gone a long way to helping people who have no savings to begin a retirement plan for themselves and their families. This money not only helps musicians, it helps to keep the music alive.”

Jimmy Owens

Jimmy Owens plays “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” Photo credit, City Council Photographer Will Alatriste

Another long-time supporter, Sonny Rollins bassist Bob Cranshaw reiterated his staunch support for J4JA’s goals, especially in getting musicians pensions to increase economic security later in their lives, “I have for years been advocating with the Musicians’ Union, particularly on the subject of pensions. I have seen countless musicians in crisis, people who were highly respected, incredibly talented people but who failed to prepare for their retirement due to a lack of benefits available to them. And that is still the case today.”

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra leader John Mosca bravely stood up to support the effort and offered first-hand testimony from someone who lives and works in NYC’s storied jazz clubs, “This plan would help a lot of people who work at the Vanguard and other jazz clubs, and the jazz musicians sorely need it. The clubs are our workspaces, and we should get benefits that other workers get on the job. I strongly urge you to support Resolution 207-A.”

The Resolution’s cosponsors did more than simply take time to support a Council measure, each of the present Council Members spoke passionately on the subject of what jazz means to the cultural and economic reputation of the city of New York, making it clear that they find it unconscionable that those who give their lives to a great American art form that has done much to shape the cultural history of New York City and America should struggle so needlessly.

New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee Jimmy Van Bramer said, “The Justice for Jazz Artists Campaign is about equity and addressing the inequalities that exist here in New York. Currently, there are hundreds of jazz artists struggling to make a living while performing one of our nation’s greatest art forms. By passing this resolution we aim to work with New York’s jazz venues to give the Justice for Jazz Campaign the momentum it needs to improve the lives of countless musicians. Together we can give our country’s best jazz artists the opportunity to earn pensions, protect recording rights and the fair pay they rightfully deserve.”

“For too long, jazz musicians who play at some of New York’s most well-known clubs have not had the opportunity to attain workplace protections, including pensions,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, “I’m not proud that these clubs who have refused to negotiate are in my district. Jazz musicians deserve to retire with dignity, and clubs should work with musicians to give them the protections they deserve.”

Council Member Corey Johnson

Council Member Corey Johnson at City Hall, Photo credit, City Council Photographer Will Alatriste

Cosponsor and new Council Member Laurie Cumbo spoke to the massive cultural contributions provided by jazz musicians to NYC culture and promised to continue to work for justice from her place in city government, “Jazz artists—both past and present—have significantly contributed to the unique cultural experience that attracts tourists and locals to venues across New York City annually. These men and women are hard-working musicians who deserve economic stability and security to support themselves and their families. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the New York City Council to protect the livelihood of our musicians and ensure that the arts continue to flourish within our communities.”

Additional testimony was heard from John O’Connor, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM Recording Vice President, and Alex Gleason, representative of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

John O’Connor, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM Recording Vice President, said, “The fact that musicians who have provided us with one of the world’s great art forms have been deprived of a major benefit that musicians working in other fields take for granted is nothing short of a travesty. Though we must acknowledge the important role the clubs have made in advancing the art of jazz, we must also recognize that it is the responsibility of those who employ these musicians to help correct the injustice. Local 802 is eager to work with any nightclub willing to do the right thing. We appeal to the City Council to pass Resolution 207-A to draw attention to this longstanding problem and help these deserving musicians correct this injustice.”

John O'Connor

John O’Connor, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM Recording Vice President testifies at City Council, Photo credit, City Council Photographer Will Alatriste

The campaign is supported by hundreds of educators, writers, politicians, and artists including: Harry Belafonte, Christian McBride, Joe Lovano, Paquito D’Rivera, Jason Moran, Jimmy Owens, Bob Cranshaw, John Pizzarelli, Bernard Purdie, Bill Frisell and Bobby Sanabria.

If you haven’t done so already, please take the time to sign our petition in support the goals enshrined in Resolution 207 A and supported by members of the City Council of New York.

Click here for more beautiful photos of the hearing at City Hall, all taken by City Council Photographer Will Alatriste.


Fairness. Dignity. Respect. Now’s the Time!



Justice for Jazz Artists fights hard to win basic economic security for musicians who aren’t compensated for their hard work the way workers would be in any other context. In nightclubs all over the City musicians are expected to work for whatever ends up in the tip jar at the end of the night and many are not guaranteed pay at all, let alone receive benefits or any other guarantees of economic viability. One simple, common-sense way to help out musicians forced to ply their trade for meager tips is to establish a minimum wage for musicians. John O’Connor, Recording Vice President for Local 802, AFM, makes just such an argument in the latest version of Allegro, the union’s publication.

CLICK HERE to read why minimum wage for musicians makes sense.


Justice for Jazz Artists Demonstrates at Shake Shack; Musicians Demand Meetings with Jazz Standard’s Danny Meyer

Thursday, July 24—Justice for Jazz Artists demonstrated for a third time this summer at Madison Square Park’s popular Shake Shack restaurant and in front of the Jazz Standard, a club owned by Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), which also owns the fast food chain. USHG was founded by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Musicians and their supporters gathered in the park to protest Meyer’s refusal to negotiate with Local 802 on J4JA’s demands including pension and recording protections for musicians who work in Meyer’s club.  While the musicians played New Orleans street beat favorites such as “Look-Ka Py Py” (the Meters) and “It Ain’t My Fault” (Smokey Johnson), a tap dancer entertained the crowd and supporters passed out leaflets demanding that the “Jazz Standard…recognize area standards.”

Later, the band and supporters marched up Park Avenue to the tune of “Mozartin’” by Alvin Batiste, and eventually set up in front of Jazz Standard.  While Meyer’s patrons clapped along, demonstrators educated the public on the issues: the vast majority of jazz musicians, especially non-featured artists, often struggle to make a living, earning less than $25,000 a year from their music. Added to that is the unfortunate fact that most jazz musicians work for cash or are 1099 employees, and thus never receive an employer’s share of social security.  Demonstrators impressed upon Meyer’s patrons the need for a safety net, one that is tied to work, to support the NYC jazz community.

Meyer himself is in a unique position to work with J4JA and the musicians he hires, as USHG is wildly successful. Contributions to the union’s pension fund on behalf of all the musicians who play Jazz Standard annually would add up to less than .01% of USHG’s gross income, which has been estimated at $430 million.

Meyer’s patrons were encouraged to sign the J4JA PETITION and to send EMAILS to Meyer and other NYC club owners requesting talks


Jazz Demonstration and March

Thursday Evening, July 24th, 2014 – 6PM


Madison Square Park, NYC
Corner of 23rd and Broadway


Tell the Jazz Standard that pension and recording rights should be “standard”!

 Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group owns JAZZ STANDARD, in addition to dozens of restaurants all over the world. Despite USHG’s phenomenal success, they have refused to guarantee basic working standards, including pension benefits and intellectual property rights, for the musicians who appear at

Jazz musicians deserve the same benefits afforded to classical and Broadway musicians, yet major NYC jazz clubs have so far refused even to meet with musicians to discuss these issues.

Meet at the cordner of 23rd Street and Broadway to march to the club with us and the signature
J4JA Brass Band at 7PM



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!


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