Jazz great Ahmad Jamal has filed a $25 million breach of contract lawsuit against GRP Records and MCA Records, claiming the labels released unauthorized reissues and compilations of his works.
The complaint also alleges that MCA inappropriately licensed Jamal’s tunes for inclusion in the film and soundtrack to Warner Bros.’ “The Bridges of Madison County.”
An MCA spokesman said the company had not yet seen the complaint and does not comment on pending litigation.
The 18-page complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York, claimed MCA and GRP breached Jamal’s contractual right of total creative control over the release or rerelease of his songs.
It also asserts that Jamal has not been paid for the recent use of his works and that GRP released a Jamal record even though the label had been advised of potential litigation and asked not to.
The suit seeks $15 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. It also seeks an injunction blocking the future release of Jamal’s recordings under the GRP and MCA Records and the labels’ use of the jazz artists name and likeness.
Jamal’s recording contract was with Chess Records; MCA obtained the rights to the pact when it acquired Chess.
“Ahmad Jamal was at the forefront of the jazz movement of our country, and in my opinion, he is being treated as if he were no longer alive,” Michael Elkin of Thelen, Reid & Priest, told Daily Variety. Elkin said the reissues and unauthorized compilations of Jamal’s works “are completely offensive to Ahmad’s creative integrity and sensibility.”