"I'm looking forward to hearing some good music," said U.S. Solicitor General Wade McCree last night shortly before "An Evening of Jazz on Capitol Hill."
And that's what he said he heard. The Rutgers University Jazz Professors, a group of jazzmen who teach at the university, turned the Cannon Caucus Room into a small concert hall for about an hour.
The concert, attended by approximately 200 foreign diplomats and a few members of Congress, was jointly sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and the Hospitality Information Service, a volunteer group that helps diplomatic families settle in the Washington area.
McCree said he "used to be quite a jazz fan," starting at Fisk University as a friend of musicians in the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra.
While chatting about jazz, McCree and Livingston L. Biddle, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, discovered they had both served in the military in Italy during World War II.
They immediately switched to Italian. McCree displayed a fluency that stopped Biddle.
"You remember much more than I do," said the chairman.
Rep. Larry Winn Jr. (R-Kan.) told the guests he used to be a drummer and once booked bands, including Andy Kirk's, for college dates.
The concert was informal. Listeners sat at tables for 10, often repairing to the bar for wine and hors d'oeuvres as they listened to saxophonist Frank Foster, guitarist Ted Dunbar, bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Freddie Waits.
"It's the best music I've heard in a long time," said Capt. Uee Radicke, the West German naval attache.
"And it could only happen in the U.S. -- a jazz event inside this government."