“It’s very hard to find young musicians, especially who know Latin music,” says teen jazz pianist Chase Morrin. “Not only to find the skill necessary but the maturity. It has been my ongoing challenge. Sometimes, I prefer to play with adults, but age becomes an issue at places 21-and-over.”
Until graduating in 2011, Morrin attended Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley, where Michael Bogart of Tower of Power was one of his teachers. The players in his quintet the Latin Connection ranged in age from 15 to 17. “That’s been a problem, finding kids who are serious about jazz.”
“The other problem I’ve had with kids at school is that they either totally respect me or they don’t want anything to do with me. I’ve had my share of jealousy for no reason. After playing with good players, it’s hard to play with average players.”
Morrin attended a summer session at the UC San Diego jazz camp (on a full scholarship) and served a month long residency at the California State Summer School for the Arts at Cal Arts. In addition, he received a Herb Alpert Scholarship for Emerging Young Artists that he plans to use to further his musical education.
In addition to the Latin Connection, his other bands include the Chase Morrin Trio with Brian Wright and Bob Daniels, and a funk trio called Minor Groove. Known for his sense of style, like wearing a black bowler hat onstage, he performs his own compositions and covers of classical and contemporary numbers.
Morrin is also an emerging songwriter for stage musicals. "I composed the full musical score for Canyon Crest Academy’s Corpse Bride my freshman year," he says on his MySpace page. "I conducted and played keyboards for Grease, a High School Musical (ACT) and for Cats (San Diego Jr. Theater) and South Pacific. I study piano with the amazing Rick Helzer and I teach a few piano students at my home."
In 2011, Morrin won the Next Generation Jazz Festival’s Composition Competition, for his song “Mumphis,” which he performed by the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra on the Jimmy Lyons Arena Stage on September 18. Morrin also received the fourth annual Gerald Wilson Award and a cash prize.
He toured with the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in July 2011, having just graduated from Canyon Crest Academy. The teen winner of four 2011 Downbeat Awards went on to attend both Harvard and the New England Conservatory of Music.