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Clinton Takes Center Stage--as Saxophone Player

January 22, 1992|DAVID LAUTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton once said that as a high school student he abandoned playing saxophone as a career because "I could never be great."

Right. He's no John Coltrane.

But for a politician, he's not bad.

In August, 1988, Clinton had a highly publicized sax fling, appearing on the Johnny Carson show and playing with the band after delivering a dreadfully long and dull speech at the Democratic convention in Atlanta.

Tuesday night, at a $120,000 fund-raiser in a downtown nightclub here, Clinton demonstrated his skill on the alto horn. He was bad on "I Feel Good"--the first number--but by the time he got to a jazzy version of "Summertime," he had the audience cheering.

It was, of course, an easy audience: hundreds of young, eager Democrats who had paid $50 each to enter and who spent the hours before Clinton appeared glad-handing each other and exchanging resumes.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Clinton told them as he finished, "you have just heard the first rule of an occasional musician: Always play with a good, loud band."

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