ELAC band leader brings music to campus

BRASS...BRASS...BRASS—Jesus "Chuy" Martinez poses with the brass section of the ELAC marching band before a performance. Photo courtesy of Music Department

By Gabriela Chavez

From working as a band director and applied music instructor at Cerritos College, Jesus “Chuy” Martinez gradually became a full-time teacher at East Los Angeles College.

This professor of music completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music with an emphasis in jazz, from the University of Southern California. Martinez worked for seven years as the band director for the marching band, concert percussion ensemble, beginning strings, orchestra, beginning band, color guard and the dance team for several high schools, including Rancho Santa Margarita, Santa Fe High School, California High School and Cerritos High school.

He has also starred in movies, commercials, halftime shows of football games and has produced CDs. Martinez performed at Disneyland as the bandleader for the Bayou Brass Band, where his band played for deaf children while they sat close to the speakers and felt the vibrations of the music.

Martinez won awards from the Reno Jazz Festival, Charo Community Development Corporation, Fullerton Jazz Festival and several Disneyland community arts showcase. Some of his awards are available on display at the S2 building. He continues to perform as the bandleader of the Bayou Brass Band at Disneyland and is working toward his doctorate degree in music at USC.

He is also the Assistant Band Director to Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, his “musical father,” Martinez said, as part of his. Martinez was born into his parents’ love for music, greatly influenced by his mother Maria de Jesus and father Andres Martinez Jr. who were both great swing dancers Martinez said. They interacted with famous performers such as Perez Prado, “The King of Mambo.”

Martinez was offered a job at ELAC while he was involved with Cerritos College and Disney. “Here, you couldn’t get any lower. The band room had spider webs and cockroaches,” Martinez said.

ELAC former president Ernest Moreno’s vision was to change the image of the college. The last year any legitimate files and records existed from the Music Department at ELAC was in 1975, beginning with 12 students.

Martinez said  that since then, the number of students interested in a career in music has increased. “A band director has to be there all the time or else how do you expect them to give you their best in their performance?,” Martinez said.

He describes the band to be just like football, all members have their position and the director is like their coach. “The interpersonal relationship is crucial for the band’s success” he said.

A constant struggle for Martinez is the financial support, due to extreme budget cuts and going from eight coaches for the Music Department to only one. He has held his head high and encouraged his students to do the same. “We could either sink or swim. It’s difficult teaching at times because the students are frustrated and feel neglected, but there is only so much I can do,” Martinez said.

Martinez was able to grant uniforms, instruments and approve donations for ELAC due to Martinez’s prior relationship with Yamaha. He continues to create fundraisers with the help of his students to help  the Music Department at ELAC and prevent further cuts.

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