Russ Morgan Orchestra
From the Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas), dated November 23, 1969:
Young Morgan Makes Sentimental Return
When the Russ Morgan Orchestra appears at the Moose Club in Wichita Dec. 5, it will mark a homecoming of sorts for Jack Morgan, who now leads his late father’s group.
It was at the Moose Lodge here in 1959 that young Morgan played his first professional engagement with his father. Now 10 years later, he is returning in one of his first bookings as leader of the orchestra.
The 29-year-old says he’s not trying to pick up where his father left off, however. “I am merely trying to make my own footsteps, not to follow in his,” he said. “There was only one Russ Morgan and no man can perpetuate himself through his children. But the Russ Morgan music, its style and grace and rhythm, can be continued and will continue as long as the orchestra is playing.”
Young Morgan took over the group in August when his father died while the orchestra was playing in Las Vegas. In October, he started a one-night stand tour across the Midwest which will end with another booking in Las Vegas in December.
“There is a place in America for ‘Music in the Morgan Manner,’ to use Dad’s slogan,” he said. “I know it is popular to identify music by works and phrases, like ‘country, and rock, and rhythm and blues.’ But I prefer to describe it as listenable music, danceable music, music that helps to make you a better person and maybe make your day a better day.”
Young Morgan was born in New York, into a family that included two generations of musicians. He, his mother and his brother David traveled all over the country with their father during the era of the big bands. Eventually the family settled in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he graduated from high school. Later he attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music.
One of his first professional engagements was when he recruited a small dance band from members of the Beverly Hills High School orchestra and agreed to play background music for a vocalist’s audition at a night club. The vocalist failed to get the job, but Morgan’s dance band was hired for an eight-week run.
Then, at the request of his father, he and his guitarist brother joined the Morgan orchestra to play a ballroom date in California. He stayed with the orchestra and eventually settled in Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife, Linda, and their year-old son, Russel Gray. When he goes on the road, his family goes with him.
“I remember the tours we made with Dad,” he said. “They were wonderful and you don’t ever forget them. I want those memories for my family, too.”
Also accompanying Morgan on his tours is the trombone mouthpiece his father had used during his entire musical career.