Morris Eugene Hall (aka M.E. "Gene" Hall) (June 12, 1913 - March 4, 1993) was a music educator, saxophonist, and arranger, most known for creating and presiding over the first academic curriculum leading to a bachelors degree in jazz (then called "Dance Band") at an institution of higher learning, being at the University of North Texas College of Music (then, "North Texas State Teachers College") in 1947.
Hall was born June 12, 1913, in Whitewright, TX, to Benjamin Baxter Hall and Leila G. Hall, née Cook. As a boy, he studied the saxophone and played in church, later played saxophone 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.
Dr. 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 Dr. Hall.
Collaboration with Stan Kenton:
Hall worked with Stan Kenton and his successor at North Texas, Leon Breeden, at the Stan Kenton Band Clinics.
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