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Pay Dispute Disrupts Jazz Hall Of Fame Show

August 23, 1985|TONI CARDARELLA | United Press International

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Disorganization almost scuttled the International Jazz Hall of Fame's second induction and awards ceremony.

Some musicians from the Count Basie and Woody Herman orchestras refused to play Wednesday night when their paychecks were not available by 8 p.m, the scheduled start time of the charity event at downtown Kansas City's Music Hall.

"No pay, no play," said the manager for Woody Herman, one of several jazz greats inducted into the Hall of Fame Wednesday night.

The misplaced checks prompted last-minute changes in the program, which began half an hour late before a crowd of 300. About 1,200 tickets averaging $35 each were sold for the event. The hall holds 2,400.

The ceremony's executive producer said in charity situations where performers don't get their normal rate, usually half the musicians' traveling expenses are paid in advance--and the other half before the performance.

The absence of the checks not only resulted in musicians sitting out sets but also put most of the event's sound and light technicians on hold.

"When the pay man doesn't have money, everybody gets nervous," said Leonard Asselin of Domino Group Inc. in Kansas City, which produced the event.

After about 1 1/2 hours of backstage confusion and onstage presentation of awards to representatives of the inductees--with music in between by a local jazz band--the checks were located.

Herman, 72, and his band then took the stage for a longer-than-scheduled performance.

Officials said last-minute ticket sales possibly were reduced by the no-shows of inductees Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Clark Terry. Fitzgerald and Terry both are hospitalized while Gillespie had other commitments, officials said.

The black-tie ceremony opened with an address by Kansas City Mayor Richard Berkley, who later presented trombonist Bob Brookmeyer with a heritage award on behalf of the city jazz commission.

Other inductees were Max Roach, Benny Goodman, Freddie Green, Roy Eldridge and Jo Jones. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Hackett, Art Tatum and Mary Lou Williams were inducted posthumously.

Though various groups have been pushing for a jazz hall of fame in Kansas City, one of the principal birthplaces of jazz, it has yet to find a physical home.

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