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YORK BALANCES TV GIG WITH MUSICAL MISSION.

Byline: Fred Shuster Daily News Music Writer

While in school, Jennifer York was warned by her mother not to pursue a career in music. One wonders how York's mom feels about her daughter's current occupation as KTLA's (Channel 5) helicopter-bound eye in the sky.

York, who plays upright bass, divides her time between her jazz-fusion group, the York Quartet, and her gig with the ``KTLA Morning News,'' perennially the top-rated morning-news show in town.

She calls the traffic reporting job ``exhilarating, although it gets a little hot when you have makeup all over your face. Sometimes you see tragic accidents, sometimes you see disasters. You kind of get amped up there. You're over chases and fires - it's a whole different vibe from my other career, which is a heartfelt, spiritual bonding thing that goes on when I'm playing. You have to shift gears.''

York was born in Covina and raised in the Inland Empire town of Hemet, an area she describes as filled with mobile home parks and banks.

``There was nothing to do but play music,'' she said. ``So, I played piano and then switched to bass in seventh grade. When I was in high school, my mom said I could never have kids and play bass professionally. She told me not to be a musician.''

York studied music in college, then switched majors to broadcasting. Eventually, she landed an internship with ABC's ``Good Morning America'' and stayed four years before becoming a traffic reporter for news radio KFWB-AM (980).

``They liked my voice and said, `Let's throw her up in an airplane,' '' York recalled.

The plane led to KFWB's helicopter, and from there York was hired at KTLA. Her hours are 5 a.m. until around noon weekdays.

The York Quartet appears Sunday at Pasadena's free Playboy Jazz in Central Park show along with Latin jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo, saxophonist Bennie Maupin, blues singer Charlie Jene and others.

``I love helping people with their commutes,'' said York, who also plays with the all-female Maiden Voyage Jazz Orchestra. ``It's important to me to be a servant to my community. But if you told me 10 years ago I'd be in a helicopter doing traffic for a living, I'd have said you were crazy.''

York's quartet - which also includes Alexandra Caselli (piano), Mindy Abair (sax) and Suzanne Morissette (drums) - has been together four years. The group recently completed a demo tape, and York is looking for a regular weekly gig for the band.

``We started playing together at a girlfriend's house on Friday mornings,'' said York, who lives in Studio City with her professional bassist husband and two dogs. ``The jams were fun, and I got offered a regular gig in Pasadena. It's nice to have a steady gig in town.''

York's residency at a Pasadena restaurant recently ended. Starting June 1, she will co-anchor the 11 a.m. KTLA newscast for a few weeks.

``You do lose sleep,'' she said of balancing music and broadcasting. ``But this is a job for the '90s. You didn't have traffic reporters in helicopters before. I really love it. You have a responsibility to give accurate information. And I love the people I work with. I hope we stay together for a very long time.''

THE FACTS

Who: The York Quartet.

Where: Playboy Jazz in Central Park, Fair Oaks Avenue (two blocks south of Colorado Boulevard), Pasadena.

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: Free.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: Jennifer York

Bass-playing reporter
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 22, 1997
Words:580
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