(June 20, 2018) — Clarence Morgan King, Jr. lecturer in the music department of UTSA, died June 13 at the age of 63. A brilliant and passionate musician, King majored in jazz studies and music theory and brought a wealth of music industry experience to the department.
King joined the UTSA faculty in 1992 and has taught a number of undergraduate courses over the past two decades that have appealed to both music majors and others, including history and styles of jazz, aural and basic skills, jazz skills, jazz improvisation, jazz ensemble, history and styles of rock, introduction to the music industry and fundamentals of music for non- majors. Known for his enthusiastic storytelling, King told students compelling stories about every composer and musician discussed in class.
“He was kind, generous, reliable and had a great sense of humor,” shared Susan Dill, associate professor of music at UTSA and close friend. “Morgan had many friends. He cultivated friendships and strove to maintain them. He had a razor-sharp intellect, was knowledgeable on a variety of subjects, and could speak poetically on everything from John Coltrane and the masters of jazz, Boston red socks, zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
He worked closely with the music marketing students who spearheaded the development of Rowdy Radio. King also served on departmental committees that shaped the university’s Jazz Studies Certificate Program, Jazz Studies Minor, and its music marketing programs.
UTSA Emeritus Professor and Close Friend Jim Balentine recalls King’s contributions to UTSA.
“Morgan was first and foremost a musician – being a teacher, theorist, writer and performer were all subsets of that. He defined the Jazz Skills class, and without Morgan, UTSA would not have had any kind of jazz program. His private pre-UTSA studio also produced a number of highly successful professional players and educators, including Rob Hardt (Los Angeles), Patrick Cornelius (New York) and our very own Adrian Ruiz.
King received his Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music and completed independent studies at the Boston Conservatory of Music. He then earned his master’s degree at Texas State University. He was a professional member of the International Association of Jazz Educators and the American Federation of Musicians. His legacy also includes hundreds of invitations to be a clinician, referee, and guest soloist with area colleges, high schools, and colleges.
“The description of Morgan’s playing that I heard most often was ‘brilliant’ – brilliant technique, brilliant improvisation and brilliant artistry,” Dill said. “He never rested on his laurels and pursued a diligent training regimen throughout his career.”
Early in his career King toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under Buddy Morrow and toured Europe and the Far East with Eartha Kitt. As a freelance musician he had the opportunity to perform with notable artists such as Mel Torme, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Sara Vaughn, Ray Charles and many more. Locally, he was a highly sought-after freelance musician who played Broadway shows at the Majestic Theater and performed with a variety of local and touring bands who frequent San Antonio jazz clubs, including his own Morgan King Quartet. .
“As a performer, he was meticulous and practiced for the shows (although he could sight read better than most others could play the roles after practice),” Balentine said. “He was always called first woodwind 1 for performances – piccolo, flute, clarinet, saxophone – but his main instrument was the tenor sax. I remember intermissions at shows when he, Rob Hardt and I would play flute trios for fun… who needs breaks anyway? »
There will be a gathering of family, friends, and students to celebrate King’s life from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, June 25 at LUNA Music Bar & Lounge, located at 6740 San Pedro Avenue, San Antonio, Texas 78216 .
In his memory, the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at UTSA arranged for the donation of a book to the UTSA Libraries. Additionally, King and others will be honored by the UTSA community in the spring at the annual Roadrunner Remembrance Ceremony.