Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
You may wonder from time to time (I'm sure that by now Jimmy Carter wonders from time to time) why anyone would want to be President of the United States. One possible answer was given Tuesday night in the musicale which followed the state dinner for the Shah and Shahbanou of Iran: At least once in a while, you can invite Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie to come over to your house and make music. And perhaps, as happened Tuesday night, Fatha Hines will be on hand and come up to improvise a couple of numbers.
It all happened Tuesday night in the East Room at the White House - a superb white colonial hall with loud-speakers for the occasion housed in white colonial cabinets with fluted fronts that matched the room's chaste, Corinthian columns. It there is any distinctively classical style in American music, it is the music that was performed Tuesday night in that Greco-Roman classic room: "How High the Moon," "Round Midnight," "Misty" and "Summertime."
The audience loved it - the Carters made their enjoyment clear far beyond the requirements of protocol, going up to the stage several times and coaxing the musicians to make some impromptu additions to the too-brief program, while the more restrained shah applauded vigorously.
(Earlier, in a brief interview before the ubiquitous, gentle but firm young men one sees around the White House convinced your reporter that he should move on, the shah expressed his enthusiasm for jazz in a brief interview. The complete text of the interview follows: Q. "You enjoy American jazz, your majesty?" A. "Yes, thank you." End of interview.)
When Sarah Vaughan finished "Summertime," which was the last item on the printed program, that great, flexible, expressive and marvelously wide-ranging voice was clearly just beginning to get ready for an evening's work and nobody seemed ready to sell it all end. The President came up, gave Sarah a big hug, went over to the microphone and asked, "How many of you would like to see Earl Hines?" As it turned out, everyone would, and after he was persuaded to do a couple of numbers, with Gillespie and the group joining in, Sarah Vaughan was persuaded to sing. "I've Got It Bad and That Ain't Good." It was, as a matter of fact, very good.
The evening should have gone on, in the fine old jazz tradition, until the small hours - but protocol is protocol and your reporter, unhappily, was able to make his late deadline. The White House closes earlier than the jazz clubs. And that brings us back to the question of why anyone would want to be President of the United States.