Jazz Piano Virtuoso Moonlighted as a Doctor
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Larry Eanet's eyes were closed as his fingers danced along the keyboard. The audience at the Russian Embassy in Washington was captivated by the jazz pianist that night in 2001.
The musician himself, his eyes still blissfully shut, was so engrossed that when Mikhail Gorbachev reached to shake his hand, Dr. Eanet ignored the former Soviet leader.
Finally, he looked up, noticed Gorbachev's outstretched hand, extended his arm, then went back to playing piano.
Those who worked with Dr. Eanet regularly on the bandstand said his obliviousness to his surroundings while performing was not uncommon. He was transported to another world.
Dr. Eanet, 77, who died Sept. 13 at his home in Great Falls, was a favorite accompanist to jazz artists performing in the area, including Stan Getz, Cab Calloway, Chuck Redd and Brooks Tegler. He also recorded with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, among others.
Not bad for a man who was a full-time dermatologist.
Lawrence Joseph Eanet, pronounced like "senate," was born in Washington. His mom was a teacher, his dad a doctor. At 4 years old, he began studying piano.
His parents wanted him to be either a doctor or a classical pianist. But after his housekeeper, Dorothy Glasco, introduced him to gospel at her church, he was eager to play jazz.
More than 6 feet tall at 13, he would sneak into local jazz clubs. A lanky white teenager, he would stand out in the predominately African American audience. By 14, he was a member of the Washington musicians union, posing as an 18-year-old.
Jazz would become his second career. He received a degree in music and literature from Harvard in 1952 and earned his medical degree from George Washington University in 1956.
"He was easily one of the most brilliant people that I have met and a genius musical talent," said Tommy Cecil, a longtime Washington bassist who's played with leading musicians.
Dr. Eanet performed across Washington since he was 14, playing regularly at jazz venues including Blues Alley, One Step Down, the Kennedy Center, the Music Center at Strathmore and Charlie's Georgetown.