I thought this article that I found in the Star Newspaper, May 31, 1964 was pretty interesting. It gives two credible and authoritative views on the time when many hornmen were leaving jazz to play ska, and leaving Jamaica to play in Europe. Reading the response that Lennie Hibbert gives may, in fact, be the words of a fighting man who is defending his craft. Here is a perspective and counter perspective, from the time capsule.
Are jazzmen discontented over money?
‘NO’ SAYS HIBBERT
A suggestion that Jamaican jazz musicians are discontented because they are poorly paid for their services has been refuted by Lennie Hibbert, President of the Jamaican Jazz Association, and Sonny Bradshaw, President of the Jamaican Musicians’ Union.
In a letter to the WEEK-END STAR jazz musician Lloyd Davis of 20 Southern Cross Drive, Harbour View, said that he had never been a success in Jamaica. This was not because of the quality of the music, but because of bad handling of the musicians, he claimed.
Jazz fans lost interest because they were given so few opportunities to support the art, and jazz musicians drifted into other fields of music, such as blues and calypso, because it was more financially rewarding.
Interviewed on the matter, Mr. Davis said that it was because of lack of proper payment that many of the top musicians refused to turn up for concerts. When this happened managers were prepared to hire musicians of inferior ability–and the public suffered.
In his letter he pointed out that at the Jazz Concerts sponsored by Canada Dry last month, pianist Doug Logan was absent from some sessions and trumpeter Jackie Willacy and saxophone players Roland Alphonso and Tommy McCook left early.
“It was quite evident that there existed a wave of discontentment among the musicians,” Mr. Davis claimed.
“The whole thing is preposterous” was the comment of Jazz Association President Lennie Hibbert. “Some people want to destroy the reputation of the Jazz Association–something they will not succeed in doing.”
If there were any disagreements, he added, they did not arise over musicians’ wages. He was aware that some players felt they could not use the piano at the Jazz Club on Orange Street as its tone was not very good.
“Any misunderstandings were not serious,” said Mr. Hibbert. “Jamaican jazz are very loyal. They fully realize they cannot make a pot of gold from jazz here. They are just carrying on because of their love of music.”
Sonny Bradshaw, President of the Musician’s Union, said that no word of any misunderstandings between musicians and managers over the question of proper payment had been brought to his attention.
He agreed with Mr. Hibbert that Jamaicans would have to learn to appreciate jazz before it could gain a proper foothold here.
Last word from Mr. Hibbert: “The people rave over rock ‘n’ roll and Ska, but when it comes to good music they just turn up their noses.”