Morris Eugene Hall (aka M.E. "Gene" Hall; 12 June 1913 Whitewright, Texas – 4 March 1993 Denton, Texas) was an American music educator, saxophonist, and arranger, known for creating and presiding over the first academic curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in jazz (then called "Dance Band") at an institution of higher learning, being at the University of North Texas College of Music (then, the School of Music at North Texas State Teachers College) in 1947.
Hall was born June 12, 1913, in Whitewright, Texas, to Benjamin Baxter Hall and Leila G. Hall, née Cook. As a boy, he studied the saxophone and played in church, later played saxophone in a local combo called the Joy Makers. Hall performed with dance bands in the North Texas area in the 1930s and in 1934 began a two-year European tour as saxophonist with the Clarence Nemir Orchestra, where he developed his arranging skills.
The North Texas College of Music had been noted for years for its symphony orchestra, opera workshop, concert and marching bands, a cappella choir, and more than a dozen smaller performing groups. Gene Hall, then a graduate student at North Texas, was asked to teach dance band arranging to two students in 1942. Soon, enrollment in the class grew to fifteen students.
His North Texas master's thesis, The Development of a Curriculum for the Teaching of Dance Music at the College Level, (1944) served as the basis for the nation's first university-level curriculum for the study of jazz (named "Dance Band" at the time), established at then North Texas State Teachers College in 1947, when he formally joined the North Texas faculty to develop dance band study as part of the regular curriculum. Hall, in 1954, earned a PhD in education from New York University.
Hall resigned from the North Texas in 1959 to continue similar work at Michigan State University. Leon Breeden, who had been director of bands for five years at Texas Christian University, succeeded Hall.
Collaboration with Stan Kenton
Award in Hall's Name
University of North Texas and the town of Addison, Texas launched an annual jazz festival in the spring of 2000. The festival has created several awards to commemorate landmark figures in the development of UNT's jazz program. The Dr. M. E. "Gene" Hall Award is given to a college level big band selected by festival adjudicators to appear on one of the evening "pro" concerts.
Dr. M.E. "Gene" Hall Award Recipients (most outstanding college big band)
- 2004 – UMKC Conservatory Concert Jazz Ensemble
- 2005 – The University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band
- 2006 – University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Ensemble I
- 2007 – Loyola University New Orleans Jazz Band
Shortly after the 2009 festival it was announced that the North Texas Jazz Festival would be suspended for 2010 due to budget constraints.
- Hall served as the first president of the International Association for Jazz Education.
- 1981 – Hall of Fame Award, International Association of Jazz Educators
- 1992 – Down Beat Achievement Award for Jazz Education
Notes and references
- "The Churchill Report on Jazz Education in America," by Graham Collier (1937–2011), Jazz Changes, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1994; ISSN 1024-1736
Re-posted on www
.jazzcontinuum .com July 2010
- Biography Index, H.W. Wilson Co.
Vol. 3: Sep. 1952 – Aug. 1955 (1956); OCLC 867567906
- International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, Cambridge, England: International Who's Who in Music
8th ed. (1977); OCLC 3493652
- "Hall, Morris Eugene (Gene) (1913–1993)," by Dave Oliphant, Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association (2008)
- "North Texas Lab Band" (review), by Hugh W. Lampman (1933–2002), 90th Floor Records (1960)
- The development of North Texas State College, 1890-1949 (dissertation), by Morris Eugene Hall, New York University, School of Education (1954); OCLC 25086305
- "North Texas Jazz Festival is Suspended," UNT News Service, September 10, 2009