New York City Council Supports Justice for Jazz Artists Campaign, Which Doesn't Mean Jazz Clubs Will Necessarily Negotiate

By Ryan Book, The Music Times | Oct 10, 2014 11:15 AM EDT

New Orleans is seminal in the history of jazz, and St. Louis and Chicago have had a heck of a run with the genre themselves. There's no denying the the ultimate capital of jazz has to be New York City however. Although the biggest performers have moved from famous clubs like the Blue Note and Birdland to big stages such as Lincoln Center, the city retains its relevance to the scene. Hence why it's important for the city itself to help support the cause and encourage performers to stay. New York's city council recently passed Resolution 207 A, a statement expressing support for the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign. 

Ultimately Resolution 207 A does just what we said: voice support, not actually have any legal impact. The Justice for Jazz Artists movement is a plan to get jazz clubs to pay into pensions for the jazz musicians who have kept patrons coming back for decades. Considering that some of these musicians have been playing since the heyday of Davis and Coltrane, many are in need of help to retire and get by. 

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Alas, the jazz clubs aren't very interested in playing ball. The New York Times reports that, at least according to the American Federation of Musicians Local 802, numerous clubs (including the ones mentioned above) agreed to pay into pensions starting in 2006 but have yet to make good on that promise. 

Obviously jazz is a less sexy profession than it was during the hard bop era so it would ultimately benefit the clubs to provide benefits such as pension as to continue to attract talent to the field. 

Everyone knows that jazz musicians never truly retire. But it'd be nice if they didn't have to work evenings every night to ensure they can survive in New York City. 

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