Christopher Morgan

The Value of Wearing Many Hats

I'm both a “starving artist” and a musician who wears many hats: multi-instrumentalist, arranger, songwriter, and composer. I've been involved in music for more than 22 years. At the age of six, I started my musical "hat collection" by studying classical piano, and then, at age 12, discovering the trumpet. As an up-and-coming trumpeter and arranger, I unknowingly grew into some familiar shoes, having discovered more recently that I'm a relative of legendary jazz trumpeter and mouthpiece designer Charlie Allen. I also began producing R&B, hip-hop, and soul music tracks with funk and jazz influences. I idolized Miles, Fred Wesley, and Quincy Jones and took a liking towards narrowing the brim on my new school “fitted hat.” I created projects ranging from instrumental music to full songs and comedic skits, and produced mix tapes primarily to showcase to friends, family and others—and just to put smiles on faces. None of my music was sold at the time so, still without a dime to my name, I neither complained nor worried about the money because I took pride in my many experiences.

I attended Hampton University and Columbia College Chicago, studying Music Engineering Technology then Audio Arts & Acoustics and Music Composition, respectively. I’ ve probably been a member of at least 12 instrumental ensembles and vocal groups, most notably the Hampton Jazz Combo and Marching Band. During this time, I was the “ Cat in the Hat" with a never-ending supply of hats that I wore: I was a frat boy (Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia), a member of the Audio Engineering Society and Radio Club, a DJ on WHOV 88.1, and did various stints as a songwriter, producer, and arranger—creating music for artists on and off campus and for various events (including HU Idol and HU Making the Band). My experiences and quest for greater musical expression pulled me in hundreds of directions and gave me tons of exposure to music. Some of my work translated to dollars as I began to gig as a trumpeter in local bands and campus combos. The Trisha Brown Dance Co. also commissioned me to compose, arrange, and orchestrate a theatre performance.

After student teaching, engineering live sound, producing for local artists, dipping into show production, and starting a non-for-profit organization, I finally obtained a Bachelors of Arts degree to show for my hard work. I have since been heavily involved in educating, songwriting, and performing, appearing onstage with such notables as Koko Taylor, Jon Faddis, Fred Wesley, Randy Brecker, Charlie Baltimore, Malik Yusef, Lew Soloff, Bob Mintzer, Tom Harrell, and many others. A few artists really impacted my career, such as Jon Faddis who gave me the nickname “Undercover Brother” after a character played by comedian Eddie Griffin. Faddis served as artistic director of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, closely affiliated with Columbia College, and he personally made sure to test my practice by checking my embochure, giving me assignments, and observing my lips for the circular welts trumpeters develop from intense playing. Fred Wesley has long been my inspiration as one of the first soloists that I studied with as a trumpeter. Meeting him in person, and receiving a compliment for quickly learning his horn arrangements, was more than a satisfying experience. Being complimented by trumpeter Tom Harrell also made a huge impact on me, because of the introverted character he displayed suffering from schizophrenia. Many people have touched me, and thus I have been inspired to touch others and give back to the community.

I've served the Chicago community by volunteering as a music coach at Morgan Park High School, King College Prep, and at Canaan Community Church where two close friends and I have organized and run Omni Music Learning Center for Cultural Development, a non-for-profit music school. Our mission is to reach out to inner-city youth and expose them to a diverse and plentiful range of topics in music, such as music technology, music business, and Chicago’s history in music. Recently I have worked as the Assistant Music Director and Brass Specialist for 4His Glory Entertainment, and I continue to perform under my real name, as well as pseudonyms Adis One (A.O.) and Ayole Mose, and alongside my band, The Mose Wanted Band. Throughout my entire musical career, I have embraced wearing multiple hats. I absolutely love to create in music and even more, to give back to our youth.

As an educator, my organization, Omni Music Learning Center, is constantly providing seminar and workshop opportunities to Chicago-area youth (Contact us here). As Ayole Mose, I am currently working on my first solo album and shooting a video as Adis One with rapper K.G. entitled All We Know (to be released soon). As the Omni motto states, I believe in “music with no boundaries” and enjoy sharing with others one of the most underrated and under-emphasized cultural elements and measures of human evolution. I take pride in my "hat collection" and always challenge myself to do great things and learn to increase my business sense so at least one less artist is starving. For now, the quest continues...

Written in Spring 2011.

Christopher Morgan is a Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist, arranger, songwriter, and composer. He was the 2003–04 President of the Pi Beta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America and has held memberships in Hampton University Audio Engineering Society, International Association of Jazz Enthusiasts, and Hampton Radio Club. He has also volunteered with WHOV 88.1 radio station.

Published by CAR_Laura on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 3:00pm
Updated on Thu, 06/16/2011 - 10:42am