By Brenda De La Cruz
East Los Angeles College band director Jesus “Chuy” Martinez was selected by “The Band Directors Marching Band” to be part of the 2022 Rose Parade’s marching band “Saluting America’s Band Directors.”
This was the first-ever entry consisting of both a float and a marching band.
Martinez was asked to consider being a part of this historic event in late August, early September.
Along with being in the Rose Parade, he was asked to be part of the following day’s 40 piece band for a separate event.
As excited as Martinez was for this event, it was not easy or painless.
Martinez fell and broke his ribs the day after Christmas, and despite how painful it was to play an instrument, he pushed through.
Rehearsal for the nearly 300 band directors took place two straight days before the parade.
The group even played at Battle of the Bands at Pasadena City College the same weekend.
In addition to rehearsals, the group participated in a float judging contest, as they too were part of their float.
All 290 band directors come from junior high schools, high schools, community colleges and universities.
“It made me feel better. I didn’t feel so alone, because you know here I’m by myself as a band director, and I try to do what I can for my students,” Martinez said.
“It was a great experience because you’re representing your college, the whole community college, the city of Los Angeles, the city of Monterey Park, state of California. And every band director that is not here, you’re representing because we’re honoring them,” Martinez said. He said he was representing at least five of his band director friends who died due to COVID-19.
Martinez also learned a bandmate in his group used to watch him play on his red horn at Disneyland when he was 16 years old.
He credited Martinez with helping him play better.
His name is Craig McKenzie, who is now the band director at San Jose State University.
“Saluting America’s Band Directors” won the Showmanship Award at the Rose Parade this year.
Martinez proudly donned his ELAC band hat and shirt as part of this team.
The group is also being considered to play at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Martinez’s experience includes being Assistant Director at USC, leader of the Bayou Brass Band at Disneyland for 20 years, and over 35 years of freelance experience. The last 24 years have been at ELAC.
Martinez said the band is always looking for new talent.
Those interested can (562) 746-2277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.