A Voice in the NELA Wilderness: Revered Elder of Highland Park Spreads Music and Well-being 

2018 A Voice in the NELA Wilderness Editions October

A recent Monday night found me at Colombo’s restaurant on Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock, listening to Tom Trujillo playing jazz on the guitar with a few other musicians. Trujillo also sang and played the drums before the set was over. 

Trujillo, whom I have known for more than 40 years, is a born, all-around musician. His dad was a trumpeter, percussionist and singer who performed with Xavier Cugat, the Fifth Dimension and his own quartet. Trujillo’s credits include performing with Willie Bobo, Charles Lloyd, Mandrill, and Jimi Hendrix and recording (on guitar) with Lloyd, Mandrill, Ray Draper, Erykah Badu and the late Jack Constanzo. Trujillo was also the musical director for the opening act in Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” tour. 

Music, however, is not his only specialty.

Trujillo, age 70, is 50 years a vegan and an authority on macrobiotics, having studied in Boston and Japan under Michio Kushi, who brought the macrobiotic philosophy of well-being and longevity to the United States in the early 1950’s. 

Both of those sides of Trujillo are evident on those Tuesdays when he visits the Highland Park Farmers Market. He sits in with the many young musicians who come to the market to practice and meet other musicians, often guiding the younger guitarists and drummers through a crowd-pleasing song, such as Blue Bossa. He also has visitors at the market who seek him out for advice, not only on music, but on relationships and health. They sit next to Trujillo, asking questions, while he’s having a non-GMO vegetarian tamale he bought at the market.

When asked about macrobiotics, Trujillo explains that it is much more than a diet regime. It is based on based on traditional Chinese medicine and includes diet, acupuncture, moxibustion [a traditional Chinese medical practice] and shiatsu [a form of massage]. It also includes facial diagnosis of a person’s health. 

I watched and listened recently as Trujillo spoke with another adherent of macrobiotics. Before long, Trujillo was giving the young man some advice on how to improve his diet, based on what he saw in the man’s face and eyes. 

The way Trujillo combines his knowledge and his practices, the way he shares his talents and his interests, has made him one of Highland Park’s most revered elders. 

Christopher Nyerges is the manager of the Old L.A. Farmers Market in Highland Park..