Saxophonist-clarinetist-vocalist Benny Waters became a professional musician a year or so after the first jazz record was cut in 1917. In the '20s and '30s he played with the orchestras of Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford and others and for a decade was a member of Charlie Johnson's house band at New York's Small's Paradise. Of a 1927 recording date with the legendary cornetist King Oliver, Waters recalls, "When I first heard him play a chorus in the session, right away I said, 'Now I know where Louis Armstrong got his ideas from.' "

Waters will appear Friday in the National Press Club's Ballroom. Larry Eanet will be at the piano, Steve Jordan on guitar, Van Perry on bass and Brooks Tegler at the drums.

"I went to Europe in 1952 and I've never come back to live here," says Waters, who makes his home in Paris and tries to visit family in the States two months a year. Born in Brighton, Md., Waters has played and recorded with bands and combos throughout the Continent, and for years he led a band at the Cigale, a cabaret in Pigalle. "I quit that job in 1969, and since then I've been working as a soloist. In October I did three engagements in Paris, three in Toulouse and four in Norway. I have steady work -- more than I need."