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.
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.