Through advocacy, education and leadership, the Alliance seeks to raise the profile of the art form and foster better working relationships within the international jazz community. The Board consists of members from both the not for profit and for profit sectors and includes the foremost decision-makers in jazz education, the music industry, and artistic circles.
In October of 1999, leaders of the jazz recording industry, broadcasting, print and Internet media, heads of major jazz festivals and established jazz presenters met at the invitation of Verve Music Group President Ron Goldstein at his office to discuss plans to establish an inclusive, charitable, not-for-profit industry-supported organization designed to support jazz worldwide. Participants included the chief decision-makers from Atlantic Records, BET on Jazz, Blue Note Records, Columbia Records, Festival Productions, the International Association of Jazz Educators, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Knit Media, Monterey Jazz Festival, National Public Radio, the Recording Industry Association of America, SFJAZZ, Thelonious Monk Institute, Verve Music Group, and Warner Bros. Records.
The concept of creating such an organization was not new to the Jazz community. For almost ten years there had been numerous meetings to explore the possibility. But despite a great deal of enthusiasm, it was difficult to maintain any momentum. All of the interested parties had regular full-time jobs that demanded more immediate attention. However, this latest meeting held a new promise for success. In January 2000, before a capacity crowd gathered at the 27th Annual IAJE Convention, Bruce Lundvall (Blue Note Records), Matt Pierson (Warner Bros. Jazz), Randall Kline (SFJAZZ), Tim Jackson (Monterey Jazz Festival), and Barry Robinson (RIAA), unveiled plans for the newly-founded organization. Over the next year, this organizational committee, which also included Michael Dorf (Knit Media), Murray Horwitz (NPR) and Jeff Levenson, met weekly with its founding executive director, Chuck Iwanusa, to draft a mission statement and bylaws, file applications for Articles of Incorporation and IRS Tax Exemption as a charitable, not-for-profit organization, and elect a board of directors. By the close of the year 2000, the Jazz Alliance International was officially incorporated in the state of New York and granted 501(c)3 tax-exempt status by the IRS.
On January 10, 2001, almost exactly one year after the announcement to establish the alliance, the JAI held its first Board of Directors meeting. It was a historic gathering of the leading industry professionals representing every constituency of the jazz community. The dream of an industry-supported Jazz association was now a reality.
To those in attendance, the energy in the boardroom was electrifying. Here for the first time, were the major leaders of the jazz industry -- performing artists, independent and major record labels, smooth jazz and traditional jazz radio, agents, managers, presenters, performing rights organizations, educators, publicists, and retailers -- all assembled for the common good of the future of the music. The organization's potential was inspirational.
The Alliance aims to preserve and promote the vital heritage of America's national treasure by implementing strategies to enhance the development of the music and its audiences, thereby firmly establishing jazz within the global consciousness.
From the initial meetings in October of 1999, several major, long-term priorities provided the foundation for JAI discussions. These discussions resulted in five strategic goals:
- Provide a Unity of Purpose for the Jazz community
- Heighten public awareness and appreciation for Jazz
- Collect and distribute information pertinent to the Jazz community
- Recognize significant contributions and accomplishments in the field
- and to Provide opportunities for professional development. To attain these goals, the primary objectives for the next three to five years are to:
- Create policies and guidelines that will insure meaningful international participation in governance and in programming
- Aggressively recruit membership
- Establish an industry-wide data resource center
- Design and implement programs to promote and cultivate greater audience awareness.