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   •   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


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!


TONIGHT: Justice for Jazz Artists & St. Peter’s Church Sponsor “Battle of the Saxes”

Justice for Jazz Artists will gather at St. Peter’s Church TONIGHT for great music and a talk about obtaining basic security for musicians who are needlessly struggling in New York City.

J4JA  attempts to work with the most successful, affluent clubs around the City to find common sense solutions for musicians who are often forced to retire into poverty  or near poverty after long productive careers.

The evening will feature a performance by master musicians Patience Higgins and Bill Saxton, with an appearance by vocal stylist Keisha St. Joan.

The event will also feature a talk, “Justice for Jazz Artists!” by staunch supporter and J4JA advocate NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Owens and guest speaker, activist/artist Maluwa. Mr. Owens has spoken forthrightly and with clarity on behalf of J4JA’s cause on multiple occasions, so this will be a great opportunity to get more acquainted with the campaign and its aims, as well as how to achieve them, and to hear some great tunes!

Other musicians will also be lending their talents to the program, including: Mabel Lee, Dotti Fox, Bob Stewart, George Gray, Steve Elmer, Marcus McLaurine.


WHAT: Justice for Jazz Artists talk and Battle of the Saxes with master musicians

WHEN: TONIGHT, November 6th, performance begins at 7PM

WHERE: St. Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street


To reserve tickets, please call (212) 245-4802, ext. 185. Get them early!



Let Jazz Standard Know you Support Justice for Hard Working Musicians!

Justice for Jazz Artists endeavors to work with jazz clubs in New York City to provide hard-working musicians who are the lifeblood of their entertainment with basic benefits and security. We need your help to join with us and let New York’s most affluent clubs know that they should meet with us to work on sensible solutions so that musicians in the City needn’t worry about retiring into poverty or near-poverty.

Jazz Standard and its owners, Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), have refused to answer any phone calls or letters from Local 802/J4JA, and ignored requests from prominent elected officials attempting to initiate dialogue between the two parties. Every year, scores of jazz musicians retire into poverty, with no safety net, and are forced to rely on charitable foundations to support them in their old age. We are reaching out to our many gracious supporters to let Jazz Standard know that they should speak to J4JA about sensible solutions for achieving security for NYC-area musicians.

1) Go to Jazz Standard’s Facebook page at:
2) Go to the comment section of one or more (possibly many!) of Jazz Standard’s Facebook posts
3) Paste one of the following comments under the chosen post(s) in support of working musicians,
or craft one of your own:

-“Send an email to Jazz Standard asking them to stop ignoring calls from Justice for Jazz Artists and to work to achieve justice for hard-working jazz musicians:

-“Jazz Standard has repeatedly ignored calls and letters from Justice for Jazz Artists asking for fair treatment of jazz musicians. Click to read more:

The more posts by our supporters, the better. So post away, and let Jazz Standard know we mean business!

If you haven’t already, please click HERE and take the time to sign our petition, and to send a letter to club owners letting them you know you support our efforts to bring justice to hard working club musicians in New York City.



Dear Members and Friends:

Show your support for our Justice for Jazz Artists campaign by coming out for a peaceful demonstration, followed by a rally and march in the street outside one of the major jazz clubs. This rally will feature live music. Your support is needed!

WHAT: Justice for Jazz Artists campaign demonstration with LIVE MUSIC!
WHEN: TONIGHT Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Madison Square Park
MEET: 6 p.m. at the northeast corner of 23rd Street and Broadway

RSVP: Please contact J4JA directly if you are available for this important event.
Click here to send an e-mail to , or call (212) 245-4802, ext. 157.



RIP Bassist Butch Warren

Jazz basist Edward “Butch” Warren passed away on October 5th at the age of 74. Mr. Warren was one of the most notable jazz bassists on the scene in the early 1960’s when he played a significant role on many classic albums—butch warrenmost notably for Blue Note label—including Dexter Gordon’s Go!, Joe Henderson’s Page One, and Mr. Hancock’s first recording as a leader, Takin’ Off. He played and recorded with many of the greats of the era including Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock. Butch even joined Monk’s quartet in 1963 and toured the world. As the New York Times reports, Monk once asserted to Warren something simple but powerful: “you make my music sound better.”

Despite the health issues and other hardships, especially toward the end of his life, Butch managed occasional appearances around his home state of Washington, and he even made time to record his first albums as a bandleader—French 5tet (2011) and Butch’s Blues (2012).

Justice for Jazz Artists fights to gain security for hard working musicians in New York City who often times are forced to retire in poverty. No one who contributed so much to American culture should have to suffer later in life. If you haven’t already, click HERE and sign our petition in support of this very important cause.

Click HERE for the New York Times’ obituary on Mr. Warren.


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