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First Concert for Vocal Jazz Group

February 16, 1992|SUSAN PATERNO

Remember not so long ago when many California high schools had thriving music programs? Jazz and marching bands, concert choir, orchestra, madrigals.

No more, folks. Tight budgets have forced schools to slash music programs and lay off music teachers, which is why the accomplishments of Ed Trimis--the only music teacher at Huntington Park High School--mean so much. Trimis, in his first year at Huntington Park High, a school of nearly 4,000 students, brought eight students together to form a vocal jazz ensemble, one of only two such singing groups in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He also directs the jazz choir and band, and is trying to rejuvenate the music program after years of neglect, he said.

On Friday, Trimis, 31, will lead the school's jazz choir, band and vocal group in their first winter pops concert, "Pop, Blues and All That Jazz."

Their repertoire will be varied. The ensemble will sing several jazz selections in the style of Manhattan Transfer and Bobby McFerrin, using various vocal techniques, including scat singing, be-bop, shakes and kicks to emulate the sounds of jazz brass instruments. Ensemble members will sing solos with the jazz band and choir, and together the groups will perform African-American spirituals, jazz standards and pop pieces, including Top 40 hits and selections from Elvis Presley, the Carpenters and Lionel Richie.

Trimis said the students, most of whom are Latino, "really like singing the pop songs the best. They don't really like singing Spanish songs, but sometimes I try to stick it down their throats. We try to perform pieces from all different musical and cultural styles."

Trimis, a seven-year teaching veteran, nearly lost his job last year during the Los Angeles district's budget crisis, but he was instead transferred in July to Huntington Park, which is part of the Los Angeles city school system. He teaches--among other classes--marching band, concert band, choir, jazz band, jazz vocal ensemble, beginning winds, strings and orchestra.

"With the budget cuts, there are so many schools without any music teachers, so I'm just glad to be here," he said. Trimis praises the school's administrators for a commitment to the arts and the local junior high for a strong feeder program. "Our administration is very supportive," he said. "That's why I'm able to really begin building a program here."

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. in Westover Hall at Huntington Park High School, 6020 Miles Ave., Huntington Park. The suggested donation is $3. For more information, call (213) 583-3333.

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