The Caterpillar Big Band: Employees by Day, Jazz Musicians by Night

Many Caterpillar employees pursue interests outside of the workplace. For Alan Kenworthy, he works as an engineer for Caterpillar by day, but by night he is a trombone player trying to keep jazz music alive.

In 1978, two Caterpillar employees started a jazz group called the “Caterpillar Employees Big Band.” To this day, the group lives on to share their talents and love of music with the company and community. Kenworthy, founding member and musical director, has spent the last 12 years with the group – although he’s been playing trombone for as long as he can remember.

Composed of other Caterpillar employees, the Caterpillar Employees Big Band is a traditional jazz band made up of 18 members — They meet once a week to practice and perform at various company and community events. When performing they can often be found sporting CAT gear.

“I just love it,” said Kenworthy.

Another member of the band shares Kenworthy’s love and interest for both Caterpillar and jazz music. Brian Havlisch, a software engineer, learned about the group on his first day of work and has been playing piano for the group ever since.

“It’s a unique opportunity to express creativity outside of the day to day job, especially for engineers,” said Havlisch. “It’s a good escape and I could not think of a better way to spend my free time.”

While the music is a big part of all of the members’ commitment to the band, to Havlisch, it’s the camaraderie found within the group that makes all the difference.

“There are people from all different walks of life in this band,” said Havlisch. “You get to see people you don’t see every day ... it really reaches every part of the company.”

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Read the full feature on the Caterpillar Big Band in the Peoria Journal Star: