New York jazz musicians demand pensions

This music video from the USA is called Jimmy Owens Plays the Blues.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

NYC jazz musicians demand pensions

Friday 19th September 2014

‘Destitute’ legends go to city council after clubs’ rebuttal

US music union representatives told New York City Council on Wednesday that many jazz musicians were desperately in need of financial help.

Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802 vice-president John O’Connor told the council that, unlike musicians who appeared on Broadway or sang at the Metropolitan Opera, jazz singers in the city received no benefits.

But their need is no less than their more fortunate comrades.

Jazz musicians need pensions,” said 70-year-old trumpeter Jimmy Owens.

“They need to enjoy the same benefits received by their brother and sister musicians on Broadway and in the symphonic field. The need is real.”

Mr O’Connor told the council that it would cost jazz clubs about $22 (£13.42) per performance to create a pension fund for the city’s ageing musicians.

Many such gigs take place in packed houses at which cover charges are payable.

The trumpeter approached six of the city’s most venerable jazz clubs, including Birdland and the Village Vanguard, about the idea but was rebuffed.

Club managers insisted that musicians were independent contractors and that the clubs were not responsible for their pensions. But the musicians disagreed.

Keisha St Joan has sung at the most famous jazz clubs in the US for over five decades.

Now, at 75 and nearing retirement, she has no pension to fall back on and has asked the clubs to assist.

“Because jazz is considered a national treasure, there should be a greater concern for each musician who has paid a dear price to learn his or her craft,” she told the council.

“We demand the just rewards of receiving a pension in our old age.”

The council adopted a resolution of support for the musicians, but claimed that its hands were tied because it had no legal authority.

Council members said they would revisit the issue soon and hope to broker an agreement.

“The sad truth is that some of the most talented musicians in the world have played at the most famous clubs in the US and now, as they retire, they are literally destitute,” said Manhattan council member Corey Johnson.

2 thoughts on “New York jazz musicians demand pensions

  1. Pingback: Jazz musician Ornette Coleman, RIP | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Beyoncé’s jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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