Morgan Edward Powell (1938-2023)

Morgan Edward Powell (1938-2023)

Morgan Powell Obituary

CHAMPAIGN – Morgan E. Powell (b. Jan. 7, 1938, to Lytle and W.O.), caring listener, mischief maker, joke-teller, quip-slinger, ditty-singer, hug-aholic, gentle lover of people, home and guerrilla gardener, once called a combonist tromposer, light handed teacher, charismatic band-leader, as comfortable talking to his audience as playing his horn (and boy, did he play that horn), died Sunday (Aug. 20, 2023) after a year of valiantly fighting metastatic pancreatic cancer.

He was surrounded by his family and is survived by his wife, Patricia Hruby Powell; two daughters, Lisa (with Tom Bender) and Adriane Powell, and their children, Ryan (Danielle), Chelsea and Chloe Bender; Dean and Madison Oakley; and three great-grandchildren, Carter, Molly and George.

Born and bred as a cowboy in West Texas, he was something of a trombone and music composition prodigy. Graduate of North Texas State University, he taught summer jazz clinics for Stan Kenton and turned down the lead trombone position in Glenn Miller’s band, because he’d tried and didn’t like life on the road. He played in the famed One O’Clock Band at North Texas State University led by Leon Breeden. Breeden would not accept Black band members because they would not be welcomed in 1960 rural Texas performance sites.

Morgan led the Two O’Clock Band, welcoming in all the Black players, who were the better players (mostly). He taught at Berklee College of Music in Boston, then came to Champaign-Urbana to become a professor in the Music Theory and Composition Division at the University of Illinois. He arranged, composed and improvised music for all his bands, including Tone Road Ramblers, Jazz Quintet (JQ), Traditional Jazz Orchestra and One Plus One Quartet, among others. You might know him as the youngest original member of Dan Perrino’s Medicare 7, 8 or 9.

There will be no funeral. Instead of flowers, please give to a charity of your choice. A celebration of Morgan’s life will be held at a later date.

Evergreen Cremation Services is assisting the family.

Published by The News-Gazette on Aug. 22, 2023. obituary.