Woe is IAJE

Regular readers may recall the Independent Ear Blog post overview of the 2008 IAJE conference in Toronto last January.  Sadly that may have been the last IAJE conference for the foreseeable future.  What so many of us thought was a robust conference produced by what we assumed was the financially stable International Association for Jazz Education was in fact a complete house of straw.  And now the big bad wolf has come along and blown the whole house down. 


The bill seems to have come due (pun intended) with the post-conference "resignation" of former long time IAJE executive director Bill McFarlin.  For years boards came and boards went, presidents occupied figurehead chairs and the beat went on — all with Bill McFarlin wielding an unchallenged iron hand with zero oversight.  Well folks, the bill has come due.  Fact is McFarlin took a powder in lieu of being canned.  Once his dust cleared and the real books were examined, the rosy picture he painted for years was revealed to be as counterfeit and bankrupt as a proverbial house of straw.


Remember that highly-touted, optimistic Campaign For Jazz that IAJE launched several years ago, the one designed to put the organization on a forever firm foundation and establish a hearty endowment fund?  Again… smoke & mirrors.  Some of us recall IAJE conference banquets of the past couple of years that served in part to prop up this counterfeit Campaign for Jazz; various "donors" — or more to the point, donor pledgees — would be recognized from the dais by McFarlin and receive hearty applause and backslaps from those happy jazzers in attendance.  ‘Wow, isn’t that just wonderful news!’  A couple of years ago banquet attendees within earshot couldn’t help but hear one so-called donor pledgee mutter to anyone with open ears that he hadn’t exactly pledged anything of the sort.


At the 2007banquet a gentleman from out of the blue (regular IAJE attendees tend to be recognizeable faces in the crowd; the conferences thrived — or so we thought — on repeat business) was introduced by McFarlin as having pledged $1M to the Campaign for Jazz!  Last time I checked they were still looking for this guy and his so-far empty-suit "pledge" to the Campaign for Jazz.  A former IAJE affiliate got a call from an IAJE official seeking this gentleman’s whereabouts.  Not only was his million never banked, they can’t even locate this cat!


Since the disastrous Toronto conference (attendance was down a devastating 40% from the 2007 New York conference level!!!)allegations of malfeasance and misuse of funds have trickled through the rumor mill, McFarlin is apparently in deep cover and has been allowed to slink away scott free by the organization’s slumbering board, and now the board has issued a pitiful cash call asking the membership to pony up $25 per by snail mail in order to keep the organization afloat!  As if $25 per member, even if that paper tiger campaign were to be successful, would or could somehow stem the river of red ink which rumor has it has already reached $1.3M.  (I was reminded of a 1980s snail-mailed cash call from Joe Segal during one of his Jazz Showcase club struggles that was accompanied by a pathetic photo of a forlorn Joe with his empty pockets displayed inside-out of his slacks, palms up in despair.  But that was for a club, done mock humorously, not for an international organization for goodness sakes!)


The latest salvo comes with this week’s troubling news that Mary Jo Papich, IAJE’s first-ever woman president-elect, has resigned due to insurmountable differences on direction with the current board — members of whom apparently have their own series of agendas, IAJE and jazz be damned.  Talk about piling on!  With the exception of a tiny, clear-thinking cadre of IAJE board members characterized by Laura Johnson of Jazz at Lincoln Center (who smelled the coffee awhile back but whose warnings weren’t heeded until it was far too late), the great majority of the current and recent past IAJE board(s) must share the lion’s share of blame for this sorry state.  This was a classic case of a slumbering board perpetually asleep at the switch which never exercised due oversight over prior leadership machinations.


Current president Chuck Owen — the signator of that small-thinking, knee-jerk $25 red light cash call — and immediate past president David Caffey must share a great deal of this weight.  In fact during his presidency Caffey was duly warned by members of the IAJE staff and other concerned jazz citizens, formally and informally, that things were terribly amiss at the dear old Manhattan, Kansas HQ.  Caffey chose to keep eyes tightly shut, get his 40 winks and largely ignore these warnings.  And where does that leave us? 


It seems from this 25-year member’s standpoint that for far too long, even in the wake of the absorption of the old Jazz Times Convention’s industry-oriented model coaxed into the IAJE conference structure by such hard-working "Industry Tract" producers as Lee Mergner, Don Lucoff and more recently Suzan Jenkins, IAJE has continued to be ruled by the tight grip of jazz educators.  The organization cries out for new leadership that is a diverse, compatible mix of educators and industry leaders — not to mention its continued need for a greater degree of cultural and gender diversity in its governing body.  For far too long it appears the former E.D. was able to snow various educator-board members, greasing them up with overseas excursions to exotic jazz festivals and other locales, all the while building up chits that further solidified his armor against the kind of oversight scrutiny any intelligent organization engages in.


Currently it seems prospects are pretty hopeless for the planned January 2009 IAJE conference in beautiful Seattle.  I recently convened an informal dialogue among industry veterans to discuss the sad state of IAJE in the wake of the now-infamous $25 cash call (which has reportedly netted a paltry $10K).  The responses were a mixed bag ranging from the we’ve all got to pull together for the sake of the music cadre, to those questioning that limp $25 cash call, to the righteous indignation crew calling for some measure of financial recompense from the former E.D.  Where do you stand on the current sorry state of what was always thought of as our lone infallable international jazz support organization?  Your comments below are most welcome and encouraged.

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57 Responses to Woe is IAJE

  1. Bruce Silva says:

    This atrocity has created an awaking within the IAJE community. It is time to re-organize and eliminate the exisiting board who’s oversite and lakc of business experience or (the lack of desire) has assisted in creating an inexcuable debt and more importantly an insolvent IAJE. A lack of supervision and financial ethics has created this mis-fortune.
    I am volunteering my services in hopes of reoragnizing a once strong and beneficial organization.I look forward to energizing the once great jazz convention back to solid finacial.
    Returm Mary Jo Papich to President

  2. Bruce Silva says:

    I look forward to energizing the once great jazz convention back to solid financial stability

  3. Jim McFalls says:

    As the president of the MD Unit of IAJE, this news is exceptionally embarrassing given the fact that we (the MD IAJE board) were in the planning stages of presenting a one-day IAJE festival in Feb., 2009. No chance of that happening now. I simply can not believe that an organization that is SUPPOSED to be about jazz education has been run into the ground by years – perhaps a decade or more – of personal agendas and who knows whatever else. I completely agree with my good friend Bruce Silva in that I hope that at some point in the future, this organization can get back on track. It will need, I’m sure, a thorough house cleaning before that happens. IF it happens.

  4. This was certainly an eye-opener! I did not go to Toronto due to lack of funds and current passport — but I assume that you as a 25-year member have a perspective on whether the economy and new passport laws could have made a significant dent in the attendance, given the other organizational problems. Thanks for this insight.

    BTW, I met you at IAJE in Long Beach, didn’t go the next year, and then attended New York in 2007. If this conference is on the fritz, are there others you recommend for indie jazz/latin/world performers/artists (I’m not an educator)? Thanks!

  5. (See Woe is IAJE pt. 2 for my response to the COWARDLY post that precedes this comment).
    Willard Jenkins

  6. Mike Vax says:

    I am sending a message that I previously sent to a couple of international jazz message boards, when asked about the current problems with IAJE. This was written before I knew about Mary Jo Papich’s resignation.
    Mike Vax
    Chairman of the Board – Friends of Big Band Jazz

    I have been a part of IAJE – well the REAL one – NAJE, since almost the beginning. I can tell you that the founding fathers, people like Stan Kenton, Matt Betton, Gene Hall, Leon Breeden, John Roberts, and others are turning over in their graves! (Well, luckily, Leon Breeden is still with us.) The board, the executive director, and the educational director all lost sight of the mission years ago.
    My wife Peggy and I witnessed first hand, the extensive use of the “IAJE credit cards.” Peggy actually wrote an expose of the national executive board in her column when she was President of the California Chapter. (Two terms as president and on the California IAJE Board for 14 years.) She said things that needed to be said and everyone applauded her for it. The national board was so worried about her statements, that they sent out 1000 letters to California members trying to refute what she had said. It didn’t work. Nobody believed them!
    This has been coming for a long time. IAJE has been mismanaged and its board members, especially many of the presidents, and the executive and educational directors, have had some wonderful trips, supposing to do IAJE business.
    Here is an example that I can give from FIRST HAND information.
    When I was still producing the jazz festival at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino in Reno, Bill McFarlin called me to ask about whether I thought that it would be a good place for the convention. I said that it would be great. Lot’s of hotel rooms, lots of meeting rooms, two big ballrooms, something like 8 restaurants, and wonderful ambience. So – I arranged with Mr. Ascuaga himself and the hotel general manager for Bill and the then president and a couple of board members to come see the facility. They comped rooms, food, and such for the party and showed them a good time. A few weeks later I got an angry call from Mr. Ascuaga asking me what was happening with “my friends.”
    They had not contacted him to discuss the convention further and HAD NOT EVEN SENT A THANK YOU LETTER to the hotel.
    When I confronted Bill McFarlin about this, his answer was that “They decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to have the convention in a hotel that had a casino attached to it, because of the kids.” Now, come on, they knew ahead of time from all the brochures, that there was a casino there — and it IS in Nevada, right? Doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.
    So then I confronted him with the fact that they hadn’t even had the courtesy to contact the Nugget to thank them for their hospitality, and let them know of their decision, his response was a rather cool, “Gee, I guess we could have done that, huh.”
    These board and executive people have lost sight of what the organization was supposed to be about and they have lost sight of the “Real World.” They think they are better than those of us “peons” who are out performing and teaching jazz. They mainly care about the big companies (many of whom didn’t go to Toronto), and the big name musicians.
    The first Toronto convention was the worst IAJE convention that I had ever been to. Having it back there again, just to say that the organization is “international,” was a really stupid move, as is now wanting to have it every other year in New York City.
    The educations can’t afford to go to the convention any more. And why should they, even if they could? There are very few clinic sessions that can help the “in the trenches” high school and middle school jazz educators, who are the people that we NEED to help in order to keep jazz music alive.
    IMPORTANT INFO: The ONE SHINING HOPE for IAJE is that Mary Jo Pappich is the incoming president. She is a wonderful lady, a GREAT educator, a very experienced administrator, and cares passionately about the organization and about jazz education. With the former executive director and educational director gone, and Mary Jo at the helm, maybe something can be done.
    Mike Vax
    PS – many of the regional conferences have not been too well attended.

  7. first, thank you willard for sharing your informed view of a most troubling development. not knowing whether “concerned jazz fan” will consider me one of the “few” good guys or one of the bloodsuckers, im writing this from under my desk, lest any bombs be hurled in my direction [LOL].

    to those of us in the jazz industry there have been many troubling signs and red flags, but none prepared us for what we are seeing now. the Seattle conference has not been cancelled at this time. one hopes it will still take place and hopefully–importantly–many of the East-Coast-centric supporters (who only attend the NYC conferences) will reach into their pockets and participate!

    as IAJE has expanded it failed to keep up with the times. notoriously “low tech”, recent IAJE attendees might have thought they had fallen into a previous decade. perhaps if seattle happens, someone will tap into Redmund and Microsoft may lend a few LCD screens, kiosks etc to the proceedings. [god forbid we invite the experts in to educate us all!]

    for a number of years my offer to help, and desire to see the IAJE embrace technology for the betterment of everyone, fell on deaf ears. mcfarlin’s contention that i do pro bono work now has a different ring to it, but spending on other things was clearly out of control. the industry needs Iaje
    (although i now believe it should be the I A J with a strong educator’s wing).

    our “concerned jazz fan” was pretty vicious towards willard and his wife suzan.
    why? first, these two clearly are dedicated to the art form, second, they are hardly getting rich from their dedication. frequently the results of efforts like theirs is not readily evident as their contributions become part of the fabric of various initiatives and organizations.

    ive known willard for 30 years and he’s always struck me as a sincere cat. why in the hell else would he have stuck around the jazz scene so long? there is a real lack of understanding as to what many of “us” contribute to the jazz world.

    im reminded of gary giddins scathing indictment years ago in the Village Voice of george wein and bruce lundvall. generally i hold giddins in high regard but he was way off base that time. the state of jazz in america during the past nearly
    50 years would be vastly different without the efforts and contributions of those two gentleman.

    my 1988 keynote address at the JazzTimes convention was a call for the different factions within jazz to unite and form a national trade organisation, ala the Country Music Association. after a few misses, JAI was formed. its been a tough grind. jazz folks still need to put their differences aside and pull together for the team: jazz. “Concerned Jazz Fan” : are you feeling me?

  8. Hi, Willard

    This is a sad moment for jazz in general, not just jazz education but for the future of the music too.

    I have been a member of IAJE for about 15 years and pretty active as an Outreach Artist and clinician for them.
    I was proud to be a member and always talked about what a great organization it was for students and teachers and jazz in general.

    Seems to me, the first thing we must all do is question why we never asked for annual financial reports or are we also asleep at the wheel?

    Secondly, I think an audit is called for and that someone should start asking for one.

    Any future board would certainly benefit from all the facts and financial info that would come from such an audit.

    Is anyone starting to call for one?

    It would be a crime if the IAJE just went the way of other organizations whose funds were mismanaged.

    Lenore Raphael

  9. Personally, as a musician, I’ve always felt the IAJE didn’t really “get it” when it came to supporting this music or the musicians. It’s always seemed to me, and to the colleagues I’ve spoken to, that the organization is very insulated from the realities of the music business and doesn’t really respect the musicians who are out there in the trenches. Remember the policy change floated a few years ago that musicians who perform at the convention should only receive a conference pass for the day of their performance? Someone forgot to mention to the geniuses who came up with that idea that the musicians don’t get paid to perform, and are not reimbursed for travel and lodging expenses. This kind of arrogant and insular attitude is why the IAJE is in so much trouble now.

    As for “A Concerned Jazz Fan” (misnomer of the year), the question is not what Willard or anyone else has done for the IAJE, but what the IAJE has done for the music. Not a lot, in my opinion. Willard, thank you for your years of support of the music and jazz musicians on radio, in print, and on the internet. And thank you for your very clear and courageously NON-ANONYMOUS expose on IAJE.

  10. Lazaro Vega says:

    Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp as witness protection program? Oh man — so for 25 years I’ve been hiding, too? Had to laugh.

    In any case, pianist Geri Allen, who was just awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, will play live on Blue Lake this Thursday night, April 10th, at 10 p.m. edt kicking off a five concert series called “Live From Blue Lake.” (www.bluelake.org/radio for the web stream). Next week’s guest is Robert Hurst. As youngsters both attended Blue Lake, The International Summer School for the Arts, and both are now on the faculty at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

    I’m sorry to hear the news of IAJE’s ills and that the man who hired me at Blue Lake 25 years ago may have contributed to them.

  11. Suzan Jenkins says:

    Gentle Concerned Jazz Fan Reader –
    First of all, please let me offer my sincere condolences. It seems as though you have an axe to grind but lack the backbone to hold it up to the light. I hope you are able to stand up for yourself soon.

    But to set the record straight, I, Suzan Jenkins, personally contributed thousands of dollars to the Campaign for Jazz and helped raise thousands more; volunteered as ED for JAI for several years to help it get on its feet until I raised my own salary; created earned income products for JAI which are still earning it money; bolstered the industry track for IAJE by helping to incorporate national and international experts to widen its information base and extend its international reach; helped redesign the 2007 IAJE pre-conference track resulting in record attendance; volunteer as a mentor for Sisters in Jazz interested in entering the music business and serve as a volunteer as a panelist, moderator and on the IAJE Resource Team, to name a few things that I do and have done.

    With all due respect, Gentle Fan, it is my recommendation that prior to spewing hot flmes intended to singe, you do your research, the facts of which are not in hiding, as are you.
    Peace and Light –
    Suzan Jenkins

  12. Art Martin, former US Section Coordinator says:

    I have been involved in NAJE/IAJE since 1974. I have served on the Board of the New Jersey Unit for many years and been involved as Eastern Regional Coordinator and US Section Coordinator. I have met many jazz educators and musicians that have a very strong passion for jazz music and jazz education. I have attended every conference since 1989. I did not attend the Toronto Conference mainly because of the weather. I now live in Florida and do not like cold weather.

    Unfortunately, there are a few people that have let IAJE fall through the cracks. There are many more that would like to see IAJE, become a solid organization as it was when I first got involved. I have had the pleasure of working with Mary Jo Papich for many years on several committees and was thrilled when she was elected president-elect. Along with Bruce Silva, I’m offering my services to help reorganize and energize IAJE. I hope there are many other people out there that will also volunteer.

    The one resource we not have that was not in place when the organization was organized in 1966 are the state units. They can be a big asset to our rebuilding.

    I hope to hear from some of you soon.

    Art Martin

  13. Emerson Bran says:

    Hi Willard,

    Interesting blog; I’m a recent member of IAJE (1 year member) and represent various artists. Within this past year, I’ve yet to find anything interesting or useful for the every day business in Jazz (can we still use this term? or is it owned by Pepsi?). I’d say I’m fairly young (32 year old) and in my opinion most of the Jazz industry is outdated, clubs don’t know how to do promotions anymore, lots of buyers don’t know what an Electronic press kit is. Can’t ever open an MP3 attachment!

    I think is time that organizations like IAJE get with the times, definitely do an overhaul and get a board of directors that maintain their integrity. I thought that the conference not only served as a way for educators to get better at what they do, but also for the many presenters to learn about the new, not so new but unrecognized, and established artists to be able to book gigs (as it is with APAP) and to learn about new trends.

    So far I have yet to find independant metrics on jazz audiences, most of the metrics are based on information from either magazines (which we all know have their agenda’s – sales, and websites). All of these are the different things that IAJE should have been working on.

    I too don’t think that many people won’t come to action until they see a radical change, and just like some people have posted, I’d offer my help to get it straighten out.

    Emerson Bran

  14. Re. Comments #13 & #14, I join Mr. Art Martin in volunteering my services unequivocally toward the rebuilding/rebirth of IAJE as a 21st century model jazz support organization. And I echo Emerson Bran’s comments (and Ricky Schultz’ earlier observations on this thread) regarding the need for the organization to significantly upgrade and update it’s efforts to better meet the needs of the 21st century jazz community. And one critically needed step is, as Mr. Bran suggests, the desire for an up-to-date jazz audience/community survey that would enable those of us that work within fundraising strategies to support jazz artists’ and educators’ activities to bear more substantive facts & figures in our deliberations with funding sources.
    Willard Jenkins

  15. A jazz educator says:

    “IAJE has continued to be ruled by the tight grip of jazz educators.”
    This is laughable. That’s like complaining that the DNC is ruled by the tight grip of Democrats. Why don’t you form your own conference for jazz promoters, middlemen, media, and other “Industry” folk to decide what the latest hip thing is going to be, and let jazz educators and artists go about their business?

  16. DON’T YA JUST LOVE THESE ANONYMOUS POSTERS, i.e. “A Concerned Jazz Fan” and now the astute “A jazz educator…”

  17. Dawn Warren says:

    Hi Willard and Suzan,
    I commend your continuing efforts, and thank you for letting folks know what’s going on. My involvement with IAJE has been minimal, having attended a number of conferences over the years and most recently sitting on a panel for “Managers”. I’ve always been disappointed at how the conference never seemed to effectively address the issues facing jazz musicians, especially black jazz musicians. Or at how few performance opportunities existed, and the choice of those artists who were afforded those opportunities. I’m not really surprised to hear the news, just more disapointed. I would volunteer to be a part of reorganizing the organization, if the goal is truly to be reflective of the real jazz community. I can convey the issues and concerns of many, many musicians in the trenches. Many of us realize that bitching and moaning amongst ourselves is not going to bring about a change. Let me know what I can do! Peace & Blessings ~ DAWN

  18. And the beat goes on… Indy Ear just got an email from one of IAJE’s international members asking rhetorical questions about how in the world IAJE was consistently able to afford “suites at the Hilton Hotel in Cannes for the MIDEM conference,” along with after-hours champaign receptions! This from an organization that is now reportedly on the brink of bankruptcy?!? Members sure ought to be asking questions…

  19. Hi, everyone-

    As a long-time professional musician, AND a 31-year member of NAJE/IAJE, I must agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with my friends Roberta Piket and Mike Vax in regards to the “arrogant and insular” attitude of the organization over many years now. Think about this: without JAZZ ARTISTS who are actually in the trenches, fighting to keep the art form ALIVE, what would any of the educators (and I know and respect MANY of them), much less the administrators, even have to talk about? Yet the performers have always (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong on this) been considered at the bottom of the totem pole. The IAJE seems to have become akin to a “mega-corp” which doesn’t seem to think it is accountable to its shareholders (read: the MEMBERSHIP). Yes, I gave my $25 (out of respect for Chuck Owen), but will not be giving any more until I see some concrete plans for solving these problems. Understand, this is in NO WAY an attack on jazz education! I have given clinics throughout this country, and I am a HUGE believer in teaching young musicians about this staggering legacy with which we have all been entrusted. However, I am shocked and appalled that the supposed “flagship” of the whole cause has been (deliberately?) run into the ground. As a dues-paying member of IAJE, I demand accountability.

    Thanks for shining a light,

    Scott Whitfield

  20. Scott is right on the money where jazz education is concerned. Do not in any way consider this dialogue an attack on or an affront to jazz education. There are many brilliant examples of exemplary jazz education occurring all over the world. In fact if there is one sector of the jazz community that gets a clean bill of health it is jazz education. What we are dialoguing about here is the current, quite alarming, and very sorry state of the organization whose mission began in support of improving the health of jazz education domestically and across the globe and which evolved into an umbrella organization that was supposed to be about the health of the art form in many facets; and after all, from jazz artists on down — given the status of jazz in America and around the world — that’s what all of us are engaged in to varying extents: JAZZ EDUCATION! However this valuable umbrella organization has apparently crumbled due mainly to incompetent administration and governance. THAT’s what this dialogue is about, NOT an attack on jazz education — far from it.

  21. Lieb says:

    The point is that “biggger is not necessarily better.” They went too far-period. I am proud of our little organization with over forty countries represented (IASJ) meeting once a year with no more than 50 students and another hundred or so teachers/administrators and NO SELLING of ANYTHING-just student to student focus. Quality , not quantity.

  22. Pamela York says:

    This is such sad news but I thank you for your blog and for keeping everyone aware of the state of IAJE. Please keep us informed of future news. Thanks SO much to you and Suzan, for your deep commitment to and passion for the music!!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Chapter 7 has been filed…

  24. Kelly Rossum says:

    Some of these stories that are beginning to surface are truly astonishing. I will never again assume the strength of an organization based solely on the word(s) of those officers at the helm.

    I am currently President-Elect of the MN chapter of IAJE and one of those “in the trenches” teaching artists. I hope this re-evaluation and eventual re-structuring of the national organization allows the strength of the state chapters to shine through. I believe (not based on anything beyond my opinion and what I’ve personally witnessed) there are thousands of dedicated jazz enthusiasts, educators, students, industry professionals and jazz musicians who would like to see this organization succeed.

    Thank you all for your input.


  25. Deena Yaussi says:


    Thank you for telling the truth! I was employed by IAJE for the last 10 years . . . yes I said “was” because we all lost our jobs because of the mismanagement of this organization. All of us in the office have known for years how money was being wasted on travel and entertainment. The staff tried over and over again to get the Board to take a look at the excessive spending that was going on (believe me….STAFF wasn’t spending it/traveling/making high salaries) but to no avail. IAJE had a dedicated staff and the thank you we got was unemployment.

    As far as financial reports – they have been public for years. You can go to http://www.guidestar.org and view some information about IAJE. You have to create an account but it is free. Gives information for the past few years – nothing current.

    Good luck to all the IAJE State Chapters. I enjoyed working with all the officers and wish them luck.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It appears that the former staff would be able to provide first -hand accounts, valuable evidence, and a trail leading to those who need to be held responsible. So, will civil or criminal charges, or both, filed to hold those responsible for what happened?

  27. Brent Campbell says:

    After hearing that the IAJE Board has voted to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy my first thought was for Betty Betton. Some of you may know that Matt and Betty received a small pension from IAJE and that after Matt passed away Betty has continued to receive the pension. (deservedly so in my opinion when you consider the sacrifices the Bettons made and the amount they invested in their time and finances to start the organization up in those early years)

    I don’t know what is in place for Betty to continue receiving a pension but I hope someone will look into this and perhaps organize a fund of some kind to continue to provide Betty with a source of income.

    Brent Campbell
    IAJE Canada Executive Director

  28. James Hale says:

    I may be one of those accused above of standing in a glass house with a rock in my hand – so be it – but am I the only person wondering why there hasn’t been an investigative piece about this situation in the mainstream press? Even the jazz press is woefully absent. Check the “news” sections of AllAboutJazz.com, DownBeat.com or JazzTimes.com … nothing there. And, of course, there is absolutely nothing revelatory on the IAJE’s web site.

  29. Deena Yaussi says:

    Wait for it! News items will be out soon I’m sure. As far as “Anonymous” – the Board has always had financial statements, etc. Attorneys will more than likely look at “everything” as soon as bankruptcy is officially filed.

    Brent is correct as far as Betty Betton. I would encourage State Chapters to consider donations from their treasury’s. I feel especially bad for Betty and her children. They trusted people to honor Matt’s legacy and as stated before they were sold a “bill” of goods.

  30. Jeff Kunkel says:

    Rather than get involved in the negative mud-slinging, I would like to point out how many positive things have been accomplished by IAJE (and NAJE before it), particularly the great work of many of the state chapters, such as our New Jersey unit that I served as president of for the past 6 years (I’m still active here as past-president). I consider myself an educator and a musician, and know of no other organization that has attempted to forward the cause of jazz education as much as IAJE, and to help spread the gospel of jazz. I’m very sorry that some of the musicians posting here feel slighted by IAJE – I wonder if that includes all of those given employment as adjudicators, all-state conductors, and so forth? IAJE is not a promotional organization for artists, but for jazz education as a whole.

    As a long-time member and conference attendee, I suppose I have an opposite view here, but would also like to add in that some of us quite enjoyed the two Toronto conventions. Toronto is a world class city, and the conventions there gave off a more educationally focused, and less hyper self-promotional vibe, than the recent New York City conventions. I hope IAJE will be able to regroup in time to go ahead with the Seattle conference.

    I would be happy to join Art Martin, whom I know quite well and who has been as dedicated to jazz education as any person alive, and others who are interested in rebuilding what can and should be an outstanding organization. Thanks for your posts here Deena, you were always great to work with as well!

    Dr. Jeffrey Kunkel
    Coordinator of Music Education and Jazz Studies, Cali School of Music, Montclair State University

  31. Alan Chase says:

    When I heard the news of the recent developments with IAJE, I have to admit, I wasn’t surprised at all. Having covered several of the conferences over the last 10 years in my capacity as a music journalist – most of them in NYC – I often came away with mixed feelings about these events. While most of those feelings are to many to list, one almost always stood out – what was the real intended mission of this conference? I’d be interested in reading some thoughts on that.

    That these are disturbing and sad developments are obvious. And it’s equally obvious these developments have caused a good deal of anguish resulting in people feeling the need to vent their frustrations as is evidenced by the number of responses to Willard’s original post. However, in my opinion, the time for venting is passed. The time to begin doing something about this is now. Several people such as Willard & Suzan, Ricky Schultz and Scott Whitfiled have oofered suggestions and/or the willingness to help rectify the problem. Personally, I feel that any of us – and this includes the so-called “anonymous” respondants to Willard’s piece who lack the courage and/or conviction to put their names with their comments – who love this music and have made it a central part of our lives/careers, should be willing to help to resolve these issues for the sake of the music and the future generations of people that are needed to keep the music alive. – Alan Chase, The Wire, Portsmouth, NH & the Univ. of NH.

  32. Lois Gilbert says:

    Re: James Hale’s comment. No, you’re not the only one wondering where’s the disclosure on IAJE’s site. After their initial email asking for pledges, they took the pledge button down from their website. What one might think of the organization or lack thereof, the non-disclosure is of great concern. Soon after the last IAJE, I initially offered my services and JazzCorner’s reach to link the community on behalf of IAJE – but unwilling to, until at the very least, we (the jazz fans, jazz industry, jazz education (both students and teachers) have a grasp of what’s going on. Despite that initial email from Chuck Owen, announcing that the Journal would no longer be published, the Campaign for Jazz was void as well as the scholarships awarded, on IAJE website there’s still a button to push for advertising in the Journal.

    If the organization is indeed in Chapter 7 (and please tell us where that information is noted) then maybe, it’s time to form a different kind of organization, one that just doesn’t count membership dues, but counts on membership input. An organization that really marries what is known as the jazz industry with the fans and education. I’ve been pushing for this kind of initiative for a long time – proud card carrying members of jazz – discounts on merchandise, events, teaching technology, and yes – even websites! (smile).

  33. Linda Betton Tippett says:

    As the oldest daughter of Matt and Betty Betton, I’d like to join others in thanking Willard for making available this platform to not only take a look at what happened to IAJE and possibly why, but as importantly to offer ideas and support for the organization’s reinvention as a servant organization, its original vision, rather than as one to be served.

    My thanks in particular to Mike Vax, Deena Yaussi, and Brent Campbell – not only for their backward glance in support of the organization’s original vision, but also for their kind remembrance of Betty -‘our own jazz mama” – as she was affectionately dubbed.

    As a family we were all involved to some degree in NAJE/IAJE. We have so many wonderful memories (and a whole lot of video footage!) of those initial beginnings with Dr. Gene Hall, Bill Lee, John Roberts, Clem DeRosa, Leon Breeden, Bob Montgomery, and Stan Kenton – along with dad – all at formative talks, and the many others who made the NAJE/IAJE conferences stimulating, educational, and encouraging to the students and teachers in their jazz walk. What a wonderful extended and ‘hip’ family it was … and still is! The journey wasn’t always smooth, but the course always seemed right.

    I believe the spirit of jazz will continue to find its champions, warriors, and stars in the right people at the right time for the right reasons, just as it has before.

    Heartfelt thanks to all you educators and teachers in the trenches who have sustained, are the backbone of, and the purpose for – IAJE. As Kelly Rossum said, “Onward”.

  34. I write from London, England.

    I was one of the first European members of IAJE in the early 1980s. I joined just at the time it was changing from NAJE to IAJE, when I was President of the Europe-based International Jazz Federation. For me the annual conferences with their clinics, forums, exhibitors and performances, were stimulating and exciting events – a visible manifestation of the creative strength of the jazz music community. They inspired me to form Jazzwise Publications in 1984 (I invented the business name and wrote the business plan on my return journey home to London, England) and to establish an annual Summer School in England with Jamey Aebersold as its Director of Education which continues to this day. We also publish “Jazzwise” the UK’s leading jazz monthly, founded in 1997 and represent publishers such as Aebersold Jazz and Sher Music Co for distribution in the UK.

    I worked closely with Past-President Richard Dunscomb at that time to try to transform IAJE into a truly international organisation. In recent years its capable and energetic European representative, Dr Ian Darrington, has committed himself to the same aim. Unfortunately, most of its Board members have demonstrated no interest in developing its international role. So, almost 25 years since it changed its name and in spite of the efforts of Richard, Ian and others, the IAJE remains a parochial American institution that merely pays lip-service to the “International” in its name. If the IAJE is to have a future, perhaps it should take this opportunity to change its name back to NAJE, dropping the pretense of being an international organization. This would enable it to focus more effectively on the necessary tasks of redefining its aims and its structure within realistic, achievable parameters. It can still invite delegates from other countries to its conferences.

    In suggesting this, I reflect on my experience of heading the International Jazz Federation in the 1980s. it had started life as the European Jazz Federation with the aim of establishing dialogue and mutual activities between the jazz communities Western European countries and countries such as Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, who were then under communist rule. In the late 1970s, at the behest of Unesco’s International Music Council, it changed its name from “European” to “International”, it gave it a status that was recognized on both sides of the political divide, which enabled it to achieve some of its aims. But to truly be “international” was a mountain that a purely voluntary organization based in Europe could could not climb. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, there was no longer a need for the IJF in Europe, and it effectively ceased to exist.

    I sincerely hope that IAJE can put the past behind it and emerge as a forward-thinking organization, leaner and wiser. Forget looking for people to blame; what’s done is done and it’s time to move on.

    Meanwhile, here are some suggestions:

    1. Consider re-inventing IAJE as the representative organisation for jazz music in the U.S. as a whole, while retaining an active role in jazz education.
    This way, the labels, artist managements, publishers, producers, etc. can be involved, bringing resources and also providing a link between education and the profession.

    2. Construct a totally new business plan.
    Seek help with this at the highest level, such as a major consultancy (e.g. PWC, Ernst and Young). There are top people in every profession who love jazz. Find some jazz-friendly mentors or advisers from the business world to assist with preparing this business plan and with fund-raising and debt-clearing. They may be prepared to input their skills or to lend one of their staffers for a couple of months. Ensure the business plan is both aspirational and achievable.

    3. Take the draft business plan to leading figures in the jazz music business and seek their advice and feedback. Be prepared to modify the plan in the light of this feedback.

    4. Recruit capable, energetic Board members (some of whom should be young).

    5. Relocate the organization to New York (closer to the heart of the US jazz scene). Name it the Jazz Association of America or the US Jazz Association.

    6. Light the touch paper and stand back!

  35. Jessica Sendra says:

    I am saddened but not surprised to read about the demise of IAJE. I met so many wonderful people during the 10+ years that I was able to attend the conferences, and have many cherished memories to savor.
    Oh – and shame on this “concerned jazz fan” for those mean-spirited and off-base comments about two of the hardest-working, most dedicated people I have met in this business.
    Much love to you Suzan and Willard!!

  36. The IAJE has had two, maybe three, years of budget deficits. This should have concerned the auditors and, at worst, forced them to have a conversation with the Board about the financial stability and plans for the organization. If they didn’t do it, I’d suggest that they were derelict in their duty. If, however, they did share their concerns with the board, I’d suggest that the Board failed to exercise its fiduciary responsiblities and bears as much responsiblity as IAJE management.

  37. {this was posted to JPL but thought i would pass it along here}
    folks: there have been some interesting comments and observations on what is a distressing situation.

    ???????? rebecca risman’s comment was very inciteful.? it begs the question, why is a not-for-profit dedicated to jazz and education, operating for nearly 40 years, able to draw 8,000 people to its New York conferences
    with a large paid membership filing for Ch 7 (dissolution) and not CH 11 Or 13 (reorganization) ?

    while one million dollars isnt chump change, in the context of such an important and established organization, its not that much.? local, state and federal government (say the NEA, ya think?) surely could come to their aid, provide a bridge loan etc etc.

    Chapter 7 suggests there is a darker side to this.? be very clear: the misdeeds or impropriety of ONE person
    could not and SHOULD NOT bring this organization down.? furthermore, if ONE person were responsible for wrongdoing, they would be dismissed (“fired” seems such a harsh word, dontcha think?) or “resign” and left to face the music in the outside world {if they broke the law, the would be dealt with}.? the organization would deal with their financial problems like all other businesses and organizations: seek protection through the courts under Ch 11 or 13 and reorganize: settle for pennies on the dollar with their creditors, cut staff and costs and live to fight another day.

    dr. jazz was correct: the board of directors and president were not “blindsided”. impossible!? the question here is not how? but who?? ie, WHO was complicit in the misdeeds, mismanagement, misappropriations?
    the IAJE charter and constitution outlines that the executive director reports to the president and board of directors.? anyone familiar with the organization knows that the former exec director pulled some real machiavelian s%it and ran that place like his own personal fiefdom.? i witnessed a similar scenario go down some years ago at the Recording Academy.? not pretty.

    it was suggested to me that the CH 7 filing is intended to shield the organization from some number of pending and possible lawsuits for sexual misconduct or sexual harrassment and prevent the kind of wholesale audits required under Ch’s 11 & 13. why? perhaps some other people didnt want to be exposed.

    the hell with embarrassment, we’re talking real major-league misdeeds and possible criminal acts here.? again, irrespective of how costly, sexual misconduct lawsuits do not close organizations down. btw folks, if you’ve gotten this far: 501c(3)’s with revenue in excess of $2 million are required by law to have independent audits done by other than their own accountants.
    unless the former EX Dir. managed to avoid these annual requirements, the board and president would have had to know the truth about their financial condition.? stories abound about board members being treated to wonderful junkets to euro jazz fests etc.?? IAJE also employed corporate counsel ( a long-established attorney practicing in the industry for nearly half a century ) who should have recognized some of what was really going on.


    one hopes paul combs is correct–we must hope the courts rule the chapters are free-standing solvent entities. The survival of the chapters is critical! ? the chapters could reform and reorganize as a “new” national entity. perhaps mary jo papich (apparently the right person for the job) can still have a fair opportunity to become president and save this thing.

    i want to urge EVERYONE to email?? info@iaje.org and reject the Ch 7 filing and to URGE IAJE TO FILE FOR REORGANIZATION AND PROTECTION UNDER US BANKRUPTCY LAW.?? contact your local chapter
    and ask them to do the same.

    if anyone can get info on the Bankruptcy Courts (both in Kansas and US/Federal) perhaps we can mount a campaign to? derail this ill-advised course of action.

    if there was ever a time for jazz folks to put their differences aside and pull together as a team—this is it!!!
    we need IAJE to survive. ?

    for some the jazzweek conference in rochester will take on new meaning and urgency.? i suspect that Jazz Improv’s 2nd conference(scheduled for this winter in new york) will provide a timely and much needed alternative to the now cancelled seattle conference.

    ricky schultz

  38. It seems to me that two organizations with distinct missions are needed, one for the “industry” (that is, the viability of the art form outside academia) and a much smaller and more focused one that’s serious about improving the teaching of jazz. Educators have not been well served by the IAJE in recent years as the conferences became more and more industry-oriented.

    North American college and high school jazz teachers need a place (and a publication) for sharing and debating specific pedagogical practices and materials. The first NAJE conference I attended in 1976 was exactly that. But it was less so every year I attended. Especially since the Jazz Times Convention (which I also enjoyed) was folded into IAJE, discussions of teaching were marginalized while the conferences were dominated by industry-serving events. The immensity of the conferences and the simultaneous, conflicting programming made you feel that wherever you were, you should probably be somewhere else. For many of us with one foot in performance and the other in education, the temptation to reconnect with non-teaching performer friends, or to hear entertaining celebrity events, meant there was even less time for learning about education.

    The fact that IAJE’s journal had no letters page was emblematic of a lack of opportunity for dialogue from diverse points of view.

    The IASJ may provide what’s needed for some of us who teach. I’m joining tomorrow. My school will pay for faculty travel to one conference per year, but I’m not sure I can get support for attendance at conferences in Europe.

    Allan Chase (not to be confused with the Alan Chase above)
    Chair, Contemporary Improvisation / Faculty, Jazz Studies & Music History
    New England Conservatory

  39. I agree with Rick Schultz that the IAJE desist from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that action be taken that allows for a restructuring of the organization (chapter 11 or 13 bankruptcy). If the financial obligations amount to just one-to-three million dollars, as has been suggested by the various discussion boards and press announcements of the IAJE, then it would seem that something could be arrived at that could let the organization continue in its mission to “nurture and promote the understanding and appreciation of jazz and its heritage.” Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy could mean that the role of IAJE as an archive for research papers on the subject of jazz education could be lost. This would be, in my mind, as big a travesty as the loss of an annual gathering of the multi-tiered jazz education industry that has been instrumental in fostering the field of jazz studies in the academic institutions around the globe. Chapter 11 or 13 bankruptcy allows for a “Phoenix rising from the ashes” scenario, where the IAJE can be improved instead of the “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” approach of Chapter 7. I urge my fellow rank-and-file IAJE members to follow Schultz’s advice to email info@iaje.org and insist that the IAJE reject the Ch 7 filing and pursue whatever reorganization and protection that can be attained under the law.

    Ratzo B. Harris
    Graduate student – Rutgers Jazz History and Research Program
    IAJE member since 2002
    Professional musician since 1968

  40. cookie says:

    Another interesting discussion (precipitated by this blog) is occuring at the jazzcorner.com “speakeasy”. I also found a couple other message boards that contained threads about the crisis. I don’t have them at my fingertips (I was just surfing around late night when I found them), but I think I found them under the search “IAJE+bankruptcy”.

    As somebody who is both an academic and as a commercial artist, the most recent turn of events is pretty distressing. Thanks for bringing it to light.

  41. The new working vision for Jazz in the 21st Century should be to strive to become more diverse and culturally accessible, in particular: inclusive of the Hispanic presence. Some may say, “that’s a silly notion!” Jazz is already plenty diverse! But, in the face of the downfall of the International Association of Jazz Educators, this notion perhaps merits some attention in this place and time.

    Is Jazz in today’s world culturally reflective of most mainstream communities throughout the United States? For the most part, the answer to this question may be yes. However, if you look closely at the entertainment roster of Jazz artists presenting at some of this year’s Jazz festivals, the opposite may seem true in some areas of the country.

    One particular event that came to my attention that in my opinion—at least this year 2008—lacks any musicians of Hispanic origin is the 29th Annual Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland.

    From Natalie Cole, to pianist Marcus Roberts and others, there is no doubt this event presents a great roster of talent. And most importantly, it accentuates and elevates the art of Jazz. But, with a multitude of formidable Hispanic Jazz musicians living in America, it begs to ask the question: why are there no Hispanic Jazz musicians performing at this event? Is this event reflective of the Cleveland community?

    In relating to the downfall of the IAJE, could a lack of awareness and distance from striving towards a more culturally diverse association was one of the hidden causes for its demise?

    I’m not speaking about the last 5 or even 10 years. I’m referring to a missed opportunity 20-30 years ago to realize that as an organization, it was necessary to embrace a more open and inclusive concept that (as it pertains to the IAJE based in the USA) jazz is an American experience.

    At this point, it is almost routine to bring up the fact that the Latin influence in Jazz has been fundamental in its creation as well as crucial in its development.

    I’m sure that there where many causes for the downfall of IAJE. But, perhaps in theory, this train wreck would have been prevented if 20 years ago, the organization would have been more focused on building more cultural bridges to ensure a more prosperous future, in particular with its natural partner: the Latin influence in Jazz.

  42. Larry N McWilliams says:

    I would just like to add to the many great comments as to why the failure came
    to the front. Yes, IAJE did not listen to the thousands of educators who are in the
    trenches turning out students that want to follow the jazz world of performance and education. It seemed as though only the “Big Names” and the music recording
    industry had a say as to what IAJE needed. I remember the first time the convention was held in Toronto…I was there….it was the worst….and they did it
    again!!!??? I participated for many years in NAJE and it was terrific….the conventions were great….most of the performances were with and about the school groups….high schools, colleges, Universities…..etc…..I would be very happy to help it get back to that standard. sincerely, Larry McWilliams
    Dir.of Jazz Studies, Emeritus Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.

  43. Tomlinson says:

    While sending messages to info@iaje.org is well-intentioned, it assumes there is staff available to process the messages.

    In addition, I suggest emailing the board directly. The board’s email addresses are posted on the IAJE website as: owen@arts.usf.edu, david.caffey@unco.edu, mjpapich@yahoo.com, rcarter@niu.edu, ljohnson@jalc.org, coyle@hope.edu, Brubeck@ukzn.ac.za, nsbjazz@hotmail.com, paul.read@utoronto.ca, ian.darrington@blueyonder.co.uk, marcology@prtc.net, ljazzmanf@yahoo.com

  44. Bret Primack says:

    “All structures are unstable.” – Eckhart Tolle

  45. Dan Weiner says:

    As a member of IAJE about 13 years and an attendee of 7 conferences over those years, I’m appalled over those people who are saying that IAJE hasn’t done enough for their careers. IAJE has helped make me the educator and musician I am today and has done SO MUCH for my students, particularly at the high school I work at by offering so much outreach and scholarship money for private lessons and music camps. Recently, IAJE has helped enable me and my students to learn more about the history of jazz as well as the up and coming artists that probably isn’t being played on the radio or through the satellite radio networks. I’m overwhelmed by the conferences and the learning experiences I’ve received, even recently at the Toronto conference this past January. I agree with many, especially someone like Jeff Kunkel who said we should try out best to land back on our feet and rebuild as soon as possible.

    Dan Weiner
    Jazz Band Director
    Neshaminy High School
    Langhorne, PA

  46. Bruce Douglass says:

    IAJE may be dead, but the music endures. Instead of trying to resurrect what is clearly a flawed organizational model, let a new organization develop organically from the remains. It is obvious from the news and comments here that the organization became static, bloated, and corrupt. It would be in the best interest for all to begin thinking of what the music and educators needs are and how best to deliver them. Any attempts to restore the old organization with minor adjustments is destined to fail as will re-branding IAJE. Take this opportunity to redefine the mission and create an organization that is prepared for the 21st century not stuck with 20th century thinking.

  47. steve pruitt says:

    several friends have joked about the irony of jazzers having financial problems. i have to agree with posters who mention smaller scale initiatives locally or statewide as the key: if state-run organizations became the movers-and-shakers in a new organization then maybe some form of national jazz coalition is possible. GAJE is alive and well with two clinics per year for middle and high school students. maybe we could do more to promote performance by hosting a festival or something, but at least we are trying to build interest in our future. anyway, i was sad to see the demise of IAJE; for all its faults, we have lost a powerful voice for jazz in the arts community.

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  52. Pingback: IAJE Cancels Seattle Conference, Declares Bankruptcy | Night Lights Classic Jazz - WFIU Public Radio

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