Singers, big band to add jazz to Christmas’ jingle

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — When these singers sing, they lift their voices, their hands and their hearts.

This was clear at a recent morning rehearsal with the Peninsula College Vocal Jazz Ensemble, which will take the stage for a benefit performance alongside the Olympic Express Big Band this Thursday night.

In a run-through of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” the vocalists offered a taste of Jingle Jazz, the unprecedented concert set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Little Theater.

Tickets are $10 at or $15 at the door, with proceeds to benefit the Peninsula College Foundation. The evening will start at 6:30 p.m. with no-host wine and desserts in the Pirate Union Building next to the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

For Elaine Gardner-Morales, the professor who began the vocal jazz ensemble earlier this year, there’s a lot of joy wrapped up in this event. In two course sections at the college, she’s been working with 22 singers across the age spectrum, teaching them how to interpret a song — and she’s watched these men and women open up.

The ensemble performs such classics as “But Beautiful,” “Fever,” “Operator” and “I Just Found Out About Love,” with singers including Brandi Larson, Midge Hull and Tyler Napiontek, alongside Marissa Wilson and Josette Hodge, who wowed the crowd at last spring’s vocal jazz concert.

Ensemble member Jessie Spicher will do a couple of solos, “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” and “Santa Baby,” with the Olympic Express Big Band. Its musicians include Gardner-Morales — she’s a guitarist, too — plus an 11-member horn section, drummer Terry Smith, bassist Clint Thomas and vocalist Teresa Pierce.

Spicher noted that this is a plum opportunity for the vocal jazz ensemble, which is still a new project.

The ensemble’s first public performance in June drew a capacity crowd to the college’s Maier Hall; Gardner-Morales hopes to fill the Little Theater, which has about twice the seats Maier does.

Thursday’s Jingle Jazz will be studded with big-band numbers such as “In the Mood” and “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” plus “Cool Yule” at the top of the night to “Christmas Time Is Near” near the end of the show.

Gardner-Morales said she’s delighted to be part of an event supporting the Peninsula College Foundation, funder of scholarships and campus programs such as the Foothills Writers Series and Maier Hall concerts.

Jingle Jazz, the professor-guitarist said is “two great groups [and] a great cause.”


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: December 09. 2013 6:47PM
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