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   •   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   •   Scott Robinson   •   Tierney Sutton   •   Bill Saxton   •   Tatum Greenblatt   •   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

Pianist, arranger and composer Onaje Allan Gumbs Endorses J4JA

Onaje AllanOnaje_008__Final_1273913199 Gumbs is a celebrated pianist, arranger and composer whose talents have been featured on numerous jazz, R&B, soul and pop recordings.

Onaje has played with artists such as Kenny Burrell, Betty Carter, Nat Adderly and Cassandra Wilson. He also spent two years in the band of the late, great trumpeter Woody Shaw. He currently leads the group, “Onaje Allan Gums & New Vintage,” a mult-generational band whose music crosses numerous genres and has been generating rave reviews. In addition to his accomplishments on stage and recordings, Onaje is an NAACP Image Award nominee.

As an in-demand sideman since the 1970s, Onaje can help us learn how best to help those who work so hard night after night in New York’s most popular clubs. We look forward to working with him to bring justice to these musicians. Visit Onaje’s official site to learn more about his music and where you can see him.


ALIGN NY Endorses J4JA’s Fight For Working Musicians

Justice for Jazz Artists is proud to receive the endorsement of ALIGN: the Alliance for a Greater New York. ALIGN was formed in 2011 through a merger of New York Jobs and Justice and Urban Agenda, two organizations with a combined 25-year track record.

ALIGN is a coalition-building organization dedicated to advancing movements for social and economic justice. Their work helps unite workers and communities to build a more just and sustainable New York. They are currently working on projects to bring greater transparency in funding for New York State Economic Development programs, fighting for good jobs and mitigating climate change, winning quality of care for seniors and those with disabilities, and working to build solidarity and organized ties between low-wage workers throughout the City.

ALIGN’s advocacy on behalf of working people and their assistance to those in organizing, bargaining for contracts, and otherwise standing up for their rights is an inspiration and a cause with which J4JA shares a deep affinity.

Following all the above-stated reasons, ALIGN is surely a welcome addition to J4JA’s ever-growing and diverse list of endorsements. Through our shared vision of fairness, dignity, and respect for workers we are hopeful that our efforts will continue to move us closer to the realization of our goals.

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


Prominent Harlem Pastor Speaks Out for J4JA!

Pastor Mike Walrond

Pastor Mike Walrond

In a redoubled effort to expand the outreach of Justice for Jazz Artists, three prominent J4JA endorsers recently made an appearance at one of New York’s most lively and well attended churches, and spread the message about the need for solidarity around the issues faced by the jazz community. On Sunday, January 19th, legendary musicians pianist Harold Mabern, drummer Charli Persip, and bassist Bob Cranshaw performed for an exhilarated congregation at Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church, during a service attended by over 1,500 parishioners.


Justice for Jazz Artists public endorsers Bob Cranshaw, Charli Persip and Harold Mabern at First Corinthian Baptist Church

After enlivening the crowd with their spirited renditions of Juan Tizol’s “Caravan,” and Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Paparelli’s “A Night in Tunisia,” the musicians’ message was taken up the church’s pastor, Michael A. Walrond, Jr., who spoke about the continued need for fairness, dignity and respect for musicians everywhere, as he encouraged his congregation to get involved in the J4JA campaign by signing the online petition, liking J4JA’s Facebook page, and attending future J4JA rallies.


Bob Cranshaw and Harold Mabern prepare for performance at First Corinthians Baptist Church

As Pastor Walrond, affectionately known as Pastor Mike, read out the campaign demands (a fair minimum pay scale, adequate pension contributions, and recording rights for live recordings), the congregation shouted its approval. The occasion was significant in another way—it marked the first time a major figure from outside the jazz community has spoken out publicly and at length about the need for dialogue and solidarity around the issues of pension for jazz artists and fair treatment of musicians by New York City night club owners.

Pastor Walrond has pledged additional support, and campaign organizers are reaching out to other congregations in an all-out effort to expand what has become a broad based coalition of musicians, fans, elected officials, journalists, academics, and spiritual leaders.

To get involved, go to


Advocate of Justice, Writer and Activist Amiri Baraka Passes Away at 79

Justice for Jazz Artists is saddened to learn of the death of supporter Amiri Baraka. Mr. Baraka, 79, was a playwright, poet, critic, activist, and one of the most respected and most controversial African-American voices in American literature. A courageous and uncompromising voice for justice, he marched beside Justice for Jazz Artists during our 2009 push for musician pensions.

Baraka, a major force in the Black Arts movement of the 60s and 70s, was born Everett LeRoi Jones on Oct. 7, 1934, in Newark, N.J. After attending New York University and Howard University and spending time in the military, Baraka moved to New York City and become involved in the beat poetry scene here. In 1958, he founded the avant-garde poetry magazine Yugen which he co-edited with Hettie Cohen, to whom he was married from 1960 to 1965. Together they helped Yugen publish works by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Diane Di Prima, John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Gary Snyder, Gilbert Sorrentino, BarbT437487_05ara Guest, William Carlos Williams and more.

Baraka also founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School and led the Black Arts Movement, which included authors Gwendolyn Brooks, Eldridge Cleaver, Gil-Scott Heron, Nikki Giovanni, Ishmael Reed and Quincy Troupe.

Mr. Baraka also had a career as an educator beginning in the 80s; he taught at SUNY Stony Brook, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Yale University, San Francisco State University, Columbia and the New School for Social Research.

His artistic achievements included fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, a PEN/Faulkner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, the Langston Hughes Award from City College of New York, and the 1964 Obie Award for Best American Play for “The Dutchmen.”

As the New York Times reminds us, he saw himself fundamentally as an optimist: “’I’d say I’m a revolutionary optimist,’ he told Newsday in 1990. ‘I believe that the good guys — the people — are going to win.’”



Justice for Jazz Artists’ mission is to advocate for musicians who find themselves in horrific economic uncertainty later in life, or when health problems force them from their livelihood. The New York Times noted one such case this week, that of Jazz flutist Dave Valentin.

Flutist Dave Valentin

After Mr. Valentin suffered a stroke during a gig in 2012 which left him paralyzed on the right side of his body, he found himself unable to lift his playing hand. Even after recovering 85 percent of his abilities, he cannot hold his instrument long and still is unable to work. Because of the nature of his work, Mr. Valentin finds himself with little savings and no health insurance or pension to speak of.

“There’s too much alone time,” [Valentin’s manager] Mr. Bonilla said. “He needs a home attendant. I arranged to get him Meals on Wheels because all he was eating were sandwiches. Maybe somebody can send over a paella from City Island.”

It is a disgrace that Artists like Mr. Valentin—who the piece notes has performed on 6 continents and has 12 albums and a Grammy under his belt—should not have a chance to earn a pension and benefits, instead relying on nonprofits like the Jazz Foundation of America for basic subsistence.

Jazz is sustained by the practice of those who keep it alive in the clubs, and even those who find great success throughout their career find hardship later in life because they have a lack of basic economic security:

Mr. Bonilla, who manages many of the top Latin musicians, lamented how Mr. Valentin was like other artists of his generation, not counting on, much less planning for, retirement or illness. After a career that would be envied by many, Mr. Valentin must now find cheaper housing…

Justice for Jazz Artists seeks to work with New York City-area clubs to find common sense solutions to these problems in a way that won’t affect the bottom line of incredibly successful City clubs and will help those who need it and have spent their lives contributing to America’s great art form.

CLICK HERE to send an email to owners of Birdland, Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Iridium, Jazz Standard, and The Village Vanguard to ask them to come to the table to discuss simple solutions to provide for those who keep their clubs and America’s greatest art form alive.

Click HERE to RSVP for an event being held for Valentin on February 13 from 7pm-11pm at Trinity Lutheran Church. All are invited to come and celebrate Mr. Valentin’s achievements and raise some much needed funds.


Saxophonist Ivan Renta Endorses Justice for Jazz Artists!

Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Ivan Renta has become one of the premiere saxophonists in the jazz, Latin jazz and the Latin music industry. His ability to adapt to any musical setting has landed him on stage at many of the world’s most prestigious venues and music festivals. His credentials include performances with artists such as Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colon, Ron Carter, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Heath, Ray Barretto, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Bebo Valdez, to name a few. Mr. Renta has collaborated on three Grammy Award winning recordings. He recently recorded his first project as a leader with pianist Edsel Gomez, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, drummer Ernesto Simpson and percussionist Richie Flores with special guests Giovanni Hidalgo, Luis Bonilla and Nelson “Gazu” Jaime.

Welcome Ivan Renta!

Ivan Renta

Down Beat Critics Poll Winner Gary Smulyan Endorses J4JA!

Baritone saxophonist extraordinaire Gary Smulyan has announced his public endorsement of Justice for Jazz Artists!

Smulyan, a critically acclaimed musician active in recording, performing and education, is among the most prominent of players ever to pick up his instrument. He is the winner of multiple awards, including the 2009 and 2011 Down Beat Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year and the 2009 and 2010 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year. Gary has performed with such musicians as Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, Tommy Flanagan, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Diana Ross, among others. He currently appears with the Dave Holland Big Band and Octet, the Joe Lovano Nonet, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Band, in addition to producing his own projects.

Smulyan can be heard most Monday nights with the celebrated Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Welcome Gary!

Gary Smulyan






Justice for Jazz Artists Gets Creative: Jazz Standard “Sip-in”

The ever-creative J4JA campaign continues to target multiple establishments owned by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Danny Meyer and USHG own the popular Shake Shack restaurants, other more upscale eateries, and the Jazz Standard club. An article published in this month’s edition of Allegro recounts some our recent efforts to imbue “hospitality” with a little more “humanity.”

In late October we visited Blue Smoke, Meyer’s barbeque restaurant that shares a kitchen with Jazz Standard. Jazz Standard is not only a successful, lucrative part of Danny Meyer’s USHG hospitality empire, but one of the affluent NYC clubs that pays no pension contributions on behalf of its musicians, and has thusfar refused to take any calls from J4JA or sit down to discuss options to help working musicians.

Justice for Jazz Artists conducted a “sip in,” in which supporters stayed in the restaurant and ordered nothing but water. The action was followed by a call-and-response speech as protesters rose and made themselves known. The ‘sippers’ then handed out leaflets on the way out of the club and were met by our signature J4JA Brass Band to play for Jazz Standard and Blue Smoke patrons for another 30 minutes. Demonstrators handed out leaflets to customers entering the establishment, many of whom were happy to take them and learn more about our campaign’s goal to negotiate with NYC-area clubs to bring much needed security to hard-working jazz musicians.

Jazz Standard management continues to refuse to return Justice for Jazz Artists’ calls or to come to the table to discuss possible common sense solutions for insecurity in the jazz artist community of New York City. Please let them and other affluent, successful NYC clubs know that you support justice for working musicians, Click HERE to send an email to club management.


TONIGHT: Jazz Memorial for Carline Ray

Friends, Family and the music community will gather TONIGHT to remember the legacy of pioneering instrumentalist and vocalist Carline Ray. Ray passed away on July 18th of this year at the age of 88.

A member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Ray was a pioneering female musician and her legacy will endure. Tonight’s gathering will feature an evening of musical performances, remembrances, and multi-media presentations revolving around the singer’s life and work.

WHEN: TONIGHT, November 18, 2013 7:00 P.M.
WHERE: Saint Peter’s Church, located at 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street New York, NY 10022

Full information can be found HERE.
For more information about tonight’s event, call: (212) 935-2200



Harry Belafonte—one of the nation’s most prominent performers and social activists, has publicly endorsed of the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign!

Mr. Belafonte started his career as a club singer in New York to pay for his acting classes. At first he was a pop singer, but later he developed a keen interest in folk music. With guitarist and friend Millard Thomas, Belafonte made his debut at the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard. In 1952 he received a contract with RCA Victor, a flagship recording label of Sony Music Entertainment.

Belafonte was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with and international audience in the belafonte1950s. While primarily known for Calypso, Belafonte has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards.

Belafonte received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. He won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Through the 1950s to the 2000s, he performed sold-out concerts around the world.

Throughout his six-decade-long career, Belafonte has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes, including the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and the “USA for Africa” during the mid-1980s.

Now he is standing with NYC jazz musicians who are often forced to retire in poverty and are seeking fair treatment from NYC’s top jazz clubs.

The J4JA campaign is privileged to have Belafonte as an endorser. His credentials and fearlessness in standing up for what he believes in make him a perfect advocate for basic fairness and security for jazz musicians!

Welcome Harry!


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