Jazz artists traditionally have taken "day jobs" when the circumstances called for it. Turn-of-the-century New Orleans musicians worked as artisans and stevedores, Charlie Parker washed dishes in New York in the early 1940s and, to cite a prominent D.C. example, saxophonist Buck Hill soon will retire from a post office career. And while college-level jazz education has taken a quantum leap in recent years, the working jazz musician as professor still is the exception.
Saxophonist Arthur Dawkins, who coordinates the Jazz Studies Program of Howard University and teaches in it, too, has a performance history that began in the pit band of the Howard Theatre and a number of area clubs in the 1960s. To this day he frequently works six-night-a-week jobs at Ford's, the Warner and other theaters, plays jazz concerts and the occasional club gig. "I think it works to my advantage in that the majority of students are impressed with persons who are practitioners," he contends. "They can relate to someone they see 'in the street.' " Dawkins and his students sometimes even work engagements together and this on-the-job training apparently pays off; students from Howard's jazz program have won down beat college competitions and two recent graduates have gone on to the big time--trumpeter Wallace Roney with Art Blakey and bassist Clarence Seay with Chico Freeman.
Dawkins will be featured in a jazz recital at 12:40 p.m. Thursday at Howard's Fine Arts Building. With violinist Joe Kennedy Jr. as guest artist, John Malachi will be on piano, Steve Novosel on bass and Harold Mann at the drums. The concert, of faculty member Reppard Spone originals and selections from "Porgy and Bess," is free.