When Music Is Your Second Job
Engineers, linguists, politicians by day find part-time niche for music they love
`A gentleman," Mark Twain allegedly said, "is someone who knows how to play the saxophone - but doesn't."Skip to next paragraph
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By that criterion, as everybody knows by now, Bill Clinton is no gentleman. But he is president-elect of the United States. And the prospect of an unashamed saxophonist in the White House gives aid and comfort to all the other politicians - and nonpoliticians - who play a little music on the side.
This is not a partisan matter. Sen. Christopher (Kit) Bond of Missouri is a Republican drummer. So is Rep. Amo Houghton of New York's 34th district. Who will forget Amo and the Swing Voters raising the roof at last fall's magnificent farewell party for Carter Brown, retiring as director of the National Gallery of Art?
Bill Stout of Boston and Savannah, Ga. won't forget. He played clarinet in the band. The other day he recalled the delight of having New York jazzmen join in on the occasion. Hearing his fierce fluency on the clarinet, no one would assume he was anything but a full-time musician, too. But by day he is a marketer of financial services. One night he's playing a Washington gala. Another night he's playing the Christmas party of a Boston senior citizens' center in a band with an engineer, a linguist, a lay m inister, a professor of English, and a magazine editor - all finding time for the music they love.
This is business as usual for the people all over the country who have music as a second career and, in a sense, second language. They know the literature of the jazz, rock, country, or other music they play. When they get together in different groupings they just agree on a key and swing into "Honeysuckle Rose," "All of Me," "Mood Indigo," or whatever else the present quorum or audience wants. Saxman Clinton played "Heartbreak Hotel" on the Arsenio Hall TV show.
There is a similar phenomenon in the chamber music world. I know an eye doctor whose pleasure at professional conventions is to get together with musical colleagues so he can play his flute. A Nobel prize-winning chemist looks for similar opportunities with his clarinet. A national directory helps chamber music players know what's-happening-where as they move in pursuit of their "real" work.
The jazz/pop networking is more informal. Sometimes a woeful mismatching occurs as everyone in a group has the same zeal but not necessarily the same expertise.
Nevertheless, people keep trying. Sometimes they really get organized. "Lausmann's Lousy Loggers," which made a record under that name in 1972, had already been going since 1958 when a leading West Coast lumberman, Anton Lausmann, called on musicians in the industry to form a big band.
Just last year the international Ingersoll-Rand company took note of CEO's and other "jazz moonlighters" in its Washington-based "magazine of applied technology and industrial management" called Compressed Air. "9-to-5 Businessmen Find Being Part-time Musicians Creates Discipline, Teamwork, and a Richer Life," says the blurb. A sample of the musicians:
Jim Benham plays trumpet in San Francisco's long-lived, 19-member Full Faith & Credit Big Band. He's CEO of the capital management group that bears his name - and "fine-tunes $6 billion in funds for more than 200,000 investors."