Vocalist Hits Right Note With Students

She has been called dynamic, original and crowd-pleasing--but to the Valencia High School jazz bands, Barbara Morrison is heavenly.

That was how drummer Matt Warwick, 15, described the jazz vocalist at a concert presented by the high school and Kraemer Middle School last week at Valencia High School's auditorium.

Morrison, who has played internationally with jazz greats such as Ray Charles and Doc Severinsen, was the concert's guest artist.

"These kids are great," she said. "I felt very comfortable playing with them."

Valencia, which has two jazz bands, asks different artists to perform with students at the annual concert series.

This year was the first time the students played with a vocalist.

The bands feared that asking a vocalist to perform would give the concert a "choir-like" atmosphere, said Phil Mortensen, director of Valencia's Jazz Ensemble I.

But after hearing Morrison's music, both bands were sold on the idea.

"Sometimes young people don't have jazz appreciation, so I try to make music they'll like and say, 'Wow, I didn't know that was jazz,' " Morrison said.

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