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Strike up the music (and hope 76 play)

WANTED: Trombone players to join a musical group that will make its debut in Clearwater's Coachman Park on the Fourth of July. Oh, nearly 50 trombonists already have signed up. But at least 26 more are needed. Yes, the group will be playing Seventy-Six Trombones.

This all started when two local trombonists _ Sam Hazlett and Earl Hagen _ got to talking about about their favorite instrument. "Wouldn't it be fun to get 76 trombones together," Earl said, and the idea was born.

Earl has his doubts that 76 trombonists actually will be on the band shell stage because of people who say they will come and then not show up. But Sam is more optimistic. He expects to see nearly 50 musicians at the first rehearsal at 4 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

Trombone players not already on the list are welcome to just show up, but probably should call Sam beforehand at 585-8414. He said he has already got "a real mix" of some professional musicians, many trombonists who play in church orchestras and good players of college, high school and middle school age.

He said some professionals who will be performing with other groups in the park on July 4 plan to sit in with the 76 Trombones aggregation, too. And there will be a drummer.

Andre Dubas, who teaches in the program for the artistically talented at Gibbs High School and is a trumpeter with the Florida Orchestra, has done an arrangement for 76 trombones to play the song of the same name. Ten trombonists tried it out Sunday, Sam said, and "it sounded real good."

Andre also is working on arrangements for Stars and Stripes Forever, a medley of all the armed forces theme songs and God Bless America.

That's about all they will have time for, because Terry Schmidt of the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department is penciling them in a schedule already prepared.

The 76 Trombones group will perform between the International Masterworks Chorus, which will present a 30-minute patriotic program at 5:30 p.m., and the Mostly Pops Orchestra, which will play from 7:30 until the fireworks at 9:30.

Sam has played with the Clearwater Community Band and the Clearwater and St. Petersburg symphonies. He now is part of a small trombone choir at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, where Andre was the orchestra director for five years.

Earl was the band director at Oak Grove Middle School for 19 years and now works with the Suncoast Dixieland Jazz Society in a program to expose high school and middle school students to jazz music.

By the way, if you like outdoor concerts, be sure to circle July 2, 3 and 4 for Coachman Park music, as well as food, a car show and old-fashioned games.

The "Clearwater Celebrates America" program July 2 will feature music by the Saints at 1 p.m., the Sevilles at 4:15, the Streetlites at 7:15 and Three Dog Night (Celebrate and Joy to the World) at 9:15.

The July 3 schedule includes the Streetlites at 6 p.m., the Mamas and Papas (California Dreamin' and Monday Monday) at 7:30 and the Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie (She's My Girl and Happy Together) at 9:30.

On July 4 it's the Buddy Verdi Orchestra at 12:15 p.m., Kathy McAbee and Airtight at 3, plus the tripleheader of the Masterworks Chorus, 76 Trombones and the Mostly Pops Orchestra with soloists John and Mary Kay Wilson.