Man leaves career in justice for jazz (video)

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

MIAMI – Jesse Jones Jr. is known for keeping order in the court, but he may be even better recognized for holding center stage outside of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.

Jones, who has been a bailiff for 23 years, is retiring this year to pursue his true passion – jazz music. He’s so smooth with a groove, it was time for him to give up his day job, friends said.

He’s known around the courthouse as the Magical Musical Bailiff. “He’s been like a brother,” said Judge Ellen Leesfield, whose courtroom was Jones’ assignment for the past 16 years. “Every day for 16 years, I open my calendar and it says ‘judge’ with a little musical note on it.”

On Wednesday, the judge threw a big party for Jones’ retirement and the room was full of judges, lawyers, other bailiffs and, of course, the music was included.

Jones has played with some of the greats of jazz – Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and George Benson to name a few, but the 65-year-old won’t be kicking his feet up in retirement.

Jones has already scheduled a European tour that will take him to Germany, Italy and Russia and has completed work on his second CD entitled, “The So Then Collection.”

Jones said it all started when his parents bought a little boy a saxophone. “And would you believe, I wanted to learn to play so bad, I learned by myself,” he said. “Coming out of liberty city, I never had a teacher. When it’s something you really want to do, you do it.”

And now the upbeat bailiff is taking his show on the road and following his dream, but he doesn’t expect to leave the courtroom behind.

“I will always have my judge, the secretary and all with me every day no matter what stage I’m on,” he said.