Dr. Eastwood

  Clint Eastwood (second from left, flanked by Berklee President Roger H. Brown and Diana Krall '83) looks at his doctoral collar held by Berklee VP Larry Simpson.
  Photo by Cole Thompson

President Roger Brown and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Larry Simpson conferred an honorary doctor of music degree on film director, producer, and actor Clint Eastwood on Saturday, September 22, at the Monterey Jazz Festival. The ceremony took place as part of the festival's 50th anniversary celebration. Eastwood, a lifelong jazz advocate, first attended the Monterey Jazz Festival 50 years ago and has served on its board of directors since 1992. Berklee alumna Diana Krall '83, a personal friend of the Eastwood family, appeared on stage as Eastwood received the honor.

Before presenting the degree to Eastwood, Brown said, "While best known and widely honored for his contributions to film culture through images and language, Eastwood has quietly but effectively created a deeper appreciation for music, specifically jazz, through his work in film."

Brown continued: "Clint Eastwood is, of course, an iconic actor, a prolific and gifted director, a producer, a rock climber, and an erstwhile politician. But tonight we honor him for his enduring contribution to jazz and blues. From his earliest directorial efforts in Play Misty for Me, he has used not just the music but the ethos of jazz to tell his stories. As a result of his vision, the lives of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and Tony Bennett have come to life for millions. In Hollywood, a place rife with tawdry imitations and tepid convictions, we have the shining counterexample. An original, a stand-up guy who found his own drummers to march to-and they have been Elvin, Buddy, and Max."

In his acceptance remarks, Eastwood thanked President Brown and made sure his California audience noted that the honor was coming from Berklee College of Music in Boston, not the University of California, Berkeley.

Earlier that day, the Berklee Monterey Quartet, four of Berklee's top student jazz musicians, performed at the festival, demonstrating that the next generation of talent is ready to take its place in the music world. The quartet-made up of pianist Mika Nishimura, bassist and vocalist Katie Thiroux, guitarist Jeff Miles, and drummer Ryo Shibata-drew raves from the audience as well as from Rich Scheinin, a music critic for the San Jose Mercury News.


-Rob Hayes