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College Hosts Vocal Jazz Festival

More than 500 California college, high school and junior high students will converge on Columbia College on Friday and Saturday, Mar. 5 and 6 for the 25th Annual Vocal Jazz Festival. Each year, activities include a full weekend of clinics and workshops for school jazz choirs with instruction and training by professional recording artists.

Participants include 25 student groups, representing five colleges, 14 high schools and one junior high school. Among the statewide schools are College of the Siskiyous, Columbia College, Cuesta College, Sac State, Sierra College, Calaveras High, Chico High, Folsom High, Fullerton High, Golden Valley High, Kelseyville High, Kennedy High, Kingsburg High, Lower Lake High, Mt. Whitney High, Oakdale High, Parsons Jr. High, Soquel High, Summerville High, and Willits High. In addition, Take Note, a community vocal group will attend.

Highlighting the workshops are the evening concerts, performed by the professional instructors. For the third straight year, singer and comedian Barbara Morrison will spice up the concerts with her renditions of blues tunes. She will be joined by longtime jazz festival artist Don Shelton on sax, flute, clarinet and vocals. Shelton performed with the Hi-Los in the ‘50s and Singers Unlimited in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Most recently, he has been one of Hollywood´s top recording artists with many television shows and movie soundtracks to his credit.

New this year will be a special Hi-Lo´s style vocal quartet, led by Shelton and will include his daughter, Jennifer Barnes. She gained national recognition with her performance in Chili´s Restaurant commercials.

The quartet will also consist of bass vocalist Ian Freebairn-Smith, a longtime recording colleague of Shelton. Freebairn-Smith, who was the arranger for Barbra Streisand´s “Evergreen,” will join vocalist Michele Weir and pianist Phil Mattson. The vocal quartet will be backed by the college jazz combo, horn section and singers under the direction of Rod Harris.

While Friday night´s concert has been largely sold out to student groups, a waiting list for cancellations has been started. Seats are still available for the Saturday performances at 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 each for reserved seating in the college´s Dogwood Theatre and can be purchased at the Mountain Bookshop, 532-6117 and Manzanita Bookstore, 588-5126. For more information, contact the Jazz Series Office at 588-5211.