Art Sherrod Jr. doesn't fit the profile of the typical musician. For openers, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, and today he's studying for a master's in business and intends to pursue a doctorate.
In between he finds time to play the saxophone, which he'll do Saturday at JT's at the Club in Monroeville.
Mr. Sherrod, 40, grew up in Palestine, Texas, a few hours east of Dallas.
"When I was younger, when we had to decide on instruments, I wanted to play the drums," Mr. Sherrod said, but because his mother worked the overnight shift and his father worked early in the morning, "It didn't fit well with their schedule." And because of potential dental issues, "My aunt, who was a music major at Texas Southern University, convinced them not to [let me] play trumpet."
So, for Mr. Sherrod, it boiled down to "What instrument would the girls like?" He settled on the sax and eventually became one of the top high-school players in Texas.
At the same time, Mr. Sherrod gained admission to the Naval Academy after high school and, with a strong background in physics, majored in general science while at Annapolis.
"I actually put my horn down for a couple of years," Mr. Sherrod says. "You don't have time to do anything but eat, sleep, study and military obligations. I picked it back up junior year."
Mr. Sherrod left the academy during his senior year and eventually earned a degree in business from the Annapolis campus of Sojourner-Douglass College, with the understanding that the business side of music "is equally important."
Mr. Sherrod credits Grover Washington Jr., Kim Waters and David Sanborn, known as contemporary players, as early influences. However, "As I got older I began to listen to Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley," thus adding classic jazz to his repertoire.
After graduation, Mr. Sherrod began working with a number of bands in the Baltimore/Washington area. Feeling that things were stalling out for him, he decided to pursue a solo career in 2001 -- and was subsequently fired from an agency band that he was working with. And, as all musicians do, he had a little help.
"I was doing a charity gig for this organization and I didn't know Michael Henderson [a bassist/vocalist whose song "You Are My Starship" was a hit for drummer Norman Connors in the late 1970s] was in the audience," Mr. Sherrod says. "He asks, 'Who are you?' "
That association led to work with Mr. Connors, vocalist Jean Carne and fellow saxophonists Marion Meadows ("who just embraced me from jump street"), Everette Harp and Mr. Waters. Today he's working on a gospel album, which should be done in the next couple of weeks, then his third jazz album, which is being produced by Paul Brown.
But back to business. Mr. Sherrod, who now lives in Severn, Md., and maintains an active presence in the financial service industry, is currently pursuing a master's degree from the University of Phoenix -- "I'm doing homework in the hotels, on the plane" -- with the intent of earning his doctorate.
"I want to increase my flexibility, not just the music and reaching a different level, but also being able to do some business consulting at a high level -- I see a huge need," Mr. Sherrod says.
While he talks to musicians who have talent, he notes that "the difference between them and the A-list guys is in some respect, the business." He points to the much-criticized Kenny G, who has a degree in accounting, as one who "figured it out -- he has a tight business and it shows."
As for Saturday's show, be ready for anything.
"I like to pull rabbits out of the hat," Mr. Sherrod says. "I also appreciate what we grew up listing to, whether Michael Jackson or Motown."
Correction, posted April 18, 2013: The phone number to call for tickets has been corrected.
Rick Nowlin: email@example.com or 412-263-3871.