Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
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Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
November 1, 2023IM -
Jennifer Wharton’s Bonegasm
Leader Name: Jennifer Wharton
Member: Local 802 (New York City)
Bio: Jennifer Wharton is a low brass specialist based in New York City. Though getting her start classically, Wharton has deep roots in jazz, commercial, chamber, and Broadway music.
Wharton leads the trombone-forward ensemble, Bonegasm, commissioning over 30 works from jazz heavyweights and newcomers since 2017. Downbeat magazine called the band trombone ecstasy. Bonegasm has recorded three albums: Bonegasm (2019), Not a Novelty (2021) and newly released, Grit & Grace (October 2023). They have been awarded grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts Women’s Fund, Chamber Music America, and Jazz Road.
Wharton is currently performing on Broadway in Sweeney Todd and has held positions at Paradise Square, West Side Story, King Kong, Beautiful, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Jekyll and Hyde, Scandalous, Wonderland, 9 to 5, and Curtains, as well as subbing in many other Broadway productions. She has won the Radio City Christmas Spectacular bass trombone chair six times.
In addition to being an in-demand freelancer, Wharton is an active studio musician. She can be heard streaming on shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, both seasons of Schmigadoon, Vivo, and Jerry Seinfeld at The Beacon, The Incredibles 2, The Greatest Showman, and more. She has also been on over 40 big band recordings.
She is a member of four Grammy-nominated ensembles, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Alan Ferber Big Band, and the Terraza Big Band. Wharton also plays in the Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra, which won the 2023 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. She has performed on the Grammy-nominated cast albums for The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess, 9 to 5:The Musical, and Curtains, as well as the Grammy-winning recording of Beautiful, The Carole King Musical.
Wharton is an XO Professional Brass artist and plays their 1240-LT bass trombone. She teaches bass trombone at Rutgers University and Montclair State University in New Jersey and gives clinics and master classes regularly throughout the United States.
Most Memorable Gig: “With my band, the gig right after my dad passed away. It was literally two weeks after he died. I don’t remember how I played or anything, but I remember it being a very soft landing for me emotionally. Music heals!
“Or if you are asking most memorable gig ever—probably playing tuba, simulating fog horn sounds for a Brooklyn Academy of Music benefit. I was on a pedestal, all alone with a striped sailor shirt on. Every time a light was shone on me, I was supposed to play three long, low notes. Weird, but memorable!”
Advice for Other Musicians: “If someone is tearing you down, that person is not for you. Doesn’t matter if it is a teacher, parent, friend, or colleague. They are not for you. Find your people and your life (and music) will be better.”
On Joining the Union: “I’ve been a member of two locals. The first was Local 6 (San Francisco, CA). I joined in 2000 when I started doing Chinese funerals in—a union gig! That is where I met the person who hired me for my first musical—the pre-Broadway run of Wicked. When I moved back to NYC in 2005, I joined Local 802 fairly quickly and started subbing on the Broadway production a couple months later.”
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