Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi
Last Wednesday, November 14th, 8:30pm, I attended the Justice For Jazz Artists rally for the second time. A chilly night. I and my union brothers met at Two Boots Pizza at the corner of 11th street and 7th Avenue in New York for a march to the Village Vanguard and the Blue Note. When I arrived the band was already getting ready to march. Again the goal of this rally was to keep the pressure high on club owners and let these clubs and their owners know that they need to do the right thing and provide pension contributions, fair pay scales and protections of recording rights for musicians who play in their clubs!
Unfortunately due to the cold weather or to a music commitment not many musicians showed up like last time. Around 30 people came. This time no speech and no shouts of slogans. Our presence was more important than any kind of agitation.The band played jazz standards. I and two other union members distributed fliers. The organizers of the rally directed the march assisted by a detective ensuring that nobody would get arrested this time.The march went from Two Boots Pizza to the Village Gate and from there to the Blue Note.
After the march I was wondering whether the Blue Note and the Village Vanguard people heard our voices? Do they remember that in 2007, a bill was passed in New York which eliminated the sales tax on sold tickets at clubs like the Blue Note and the Village Vanguard? The revenue saved from the tax breaks were to go in to pension funds for all the jazz musicians that, more often than not, retire in poverty. While all jazz clubs which admission charges are $20 and more benefit from this agreement, the musician haven’t seen a cent.