By Karen Billing
In his last summer before becoming a Harvard University freshman, Carmel Valley musician Chase Morrin is embarking on his first tour — a two-week adventure with the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.
Morrin was selected to play piano for the 17-piece big band composed of the brightest high school jazz musicians in the country.
“Just to be playing really good music is very exciting,” said Morrin, 17, a Canyon Crest Academy graduate.
The group will play July 24 at the Annual Carmel Bach Festival and then take off on a nine-show tour to San Francisco, Seattle and Oregon, with a stop in San Diego before finishing up in LA. Their last show will be held separate from the tour, on Sept. 18 at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Morrin hopes to get a good hometown crowd for their Aug. 1 San Diego show at The Nuerosciences Institute, with guest artist Gilbert Castellanos.
Morrin’s last summer before college is a busy one. Morrin just returned from a gig playing on a Crystal Cruises ship, which travelled from San Francisco to Alaska. When he returns from tour on Aug. 2, he’ll play a show at Dizzy’s on Aug. 4 with his Chase Morrin Quartet and record a CD with his trio in LA before leaving for Harvard on his 18th birthday, Aug. 23.
He also may make an appearance at the Aug. 8 San Diego Music Awards, where he was nominated for Best Jazz, the youngest nominee in the category.
Morrin had several choices when it came to picking a college. He was accepted to USC, UCLA, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, New York University and University of Miami, in addition to Harvard and the New England Conservatory.
Morrin chose Harvard to be a part of a five-year program with the New England Conservatory (NEC) — at the end of five years, he will have a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his master’s in music from NEC. Yes he is a musician but Morrin is also extremely interested in math and science.
He loved math so much that when he finished up his requirements at Canyon Crest Academy he enrolled in a class on differential equations at MiraCosta College. He is as equally interested in molecular biology as he is in the way musician John Clayton infuses his jazz with hip hop.
“I don’t want to just be about one thing,” said Morrin.
While Boston winters will be a big adjustment for Morrin, the biggest change will be his daily routine of being at his piano, playing, practicing and composing.
The living room in the Morrin home has been Chase’s musical playground since he was a 9-year-old begging for piano lessons from his two non-musician parents. By middle school they invested in a grand piano for him that sits among a drum set, various percussion instruments and a keyboard.
Morrin can’t take the grand piano to Harvard, but he will bring the keyboard to his new dorm room.
“What a lot of jazz artists are about is finding their own voice, creating a different sound in the genre,” Morrin said.
“My ultimate goal is to find out what Chase Morrin’s voice sounds like.”
For more on the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra tour, visit
- The Aug. 1 show at The Nuerosciences Institute is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10-$15. The Neurosciences Institute is located at 10640 John Jay Hopkins Dr., San Diego, CA 92121. Call 858-454-5872 to reserve tickets.