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   •   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   •   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   •   Andrew Cyrille   •   Supporters in Memoriam   •   Phil Woods   •   Roy Campbell   •   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 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.




Legendary tenor Placido Domingo will join the talented cast of singers and musicians from the recently-shuttered NYC Opera to mount a show on February 21 to celebrate 70 years of the “People’s Opera” at New York City Center. Tickets are still available and start at $25!

The show will celebrate 70 years of what Mayor Fiorello La Guardia dubbed the “People’s Opera,” so named because of its mission to expand opera to all people by selling affordable tickets, showcasing American composers and serving as a platform many new and talented young singers, Placido Domingo among them. Mr. Domingo is a fitting addition to the show as he carried on those roots and has a long history of making opera accessible to the people through benefit concerts—most notably in performances with “The Three Tenors”—and by promoting opera among younger generations.

The 9-time Grammy winner—who’s performance in Ginastera’s Don Rodrigo inaugurated City Opera’s new home at Lincoln Center in 1966—will join some of the former Opera’s most acclaimed recent performers, including: Amy Burton, Lauren Flanigan, Joélle HarveyTonna Miller, Jennifer Rivera, Heather Johnson, Ryan MacPherson and Sidney Outlaw. In addition to City Opera’s stars, the full 60-piece New York City Opera Orchestra will join the presentation under music director George Manahan along with the New York City Opera Chorus under Chorus Master Bruce Stasyna.

NYC Opera had a long history of bringing live opera to all people, and this show is a great chance enjoy a riveting performance by one of the most celebrated opera singers and companies of our times and to support the spirit of that valuable mission, to make culture available to everyone. Visit the New York City Center site now to get your tickets, which start at the characteristically low price of $25. Support opera for the people today!


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.’”


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