Herbie Hancock, Kevin Spacey, Quincy Jones and a litany of major jazz musicians saluted President Bill Clinton on Sunday at L.A.’s Dolby Theater for his efforts in using jazz as a diplomatic force over the last 25 years.
Clinton, whom Hancock introduced as “the commander in chief of swing,” received the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Maria Fisher Founder’s Award for his contributions to the perpetuation of jazz music and the global expansion of jazz and music education in schools. Clinton chronicled his own relationship with jazz as a saxophonist, starting at age 6 and ending around 16 when he decided he could not follow in John Coltrane’s footsteps. In addition to praising the underpaid pioneers of jazz culture, Clinton said the teamwork learned in jazz education could play out in other areas.
“Sometimes a frustrated jazz musician,” Clinton said, “winds up in another field and it works out well.”