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Robert Morgan

Director of Jazz Studies Emeritus
Houston High School for Performing and Visual Arts

Robert “Doc” Morgan retired in 1999 as Director of Jazz Studies at Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), a position held since 1976. He was previously director of the jazz program at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Morgan’s degrees are from the University of North Texas (B. M. and M. M.) and the University of Illinois/Urbana (Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition). He played trumpet and trombone in UNT’s renowned One O’Clock Lab Band, and piano in the Illinois Jazz Band. His original compositions have been performed and recorded by the One O’Clock Lab Band, Illinois Jazz Band and Chicago’s Jazz Members Big Band, among others.

Under Morgan’s direction, the HSPVA jazz program became internationally known as a stimulating model for the successful training of young jazz aspirants. In a typical school year, at least 60 students, all selected by a vigorous audition process, are involved in the jazz program at HSPVA. During Morgan’s tenure, 79 HSPVA students were selected for the Texas All-State Jazz Ensemble, easily the most of any high school in the state.

Morgan’s HSPVA legacy is perhaps best represented by the dozens of alumni currently enjoying significant professional success in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, and elsewhere. One prominent example is New York pianist/ composer Jason Moran (HSPVA, ’93), recipient of a 2010 MacArthur “Genius” Grant.

In January, 2011, Morgan was honored in New York City in two concerts organized by Jason Moran. Titled 713 → 212 (Houston/New York area codes), these standing-room-only events were held at the 92nd St. Y/TriBeCa, and featured no fewer than 25 HSPVA jazz alumni who have successfully “transplanted” from Houston to “the city.” Writing in the New York Times, Ben Ratliff noted:
They were sophisticated and totally joyous concerts…..Some very good music went down….

It [Jason Moran/Robert Glasper Double Quartet] was shattering and fascinating…. In 2005, Robert Morgan was elected to the International Association for Jazz Education Hall of Fame.

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