Morgan Turner is a bassist, composer, and educator. After ten years of pursuing saxophone professionally and at the collegiate level, she was diagnosed with Temporomandibular Jaw Disorder (TMJ) in Summer of 2020, months before beginning her final year of her undergraduate degree. She was faced with a life changing decision when doctors recommended she either switch professions or switch instruments. Being unable to abandon her passion, she picked up the upright bass and began investing every moment of her spare time into pursuing this new medium of expression. The connection with the instrument was near immediate.
Morgan was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, and is now residing in Chicago, Illinois after completing her Bachelor of Music in Spring of 2021 at Northern Illinois University, where she also obtained a Performer’s Certificate. She took an interest in jazz at an early age. During her high school and early college years prior to transferring to NIU, Morgan studied with her first mentor, Larry Harms, who got her started playing jazz seriously and helped her to get many connected to professional opportunities around her hometown. These early beginnings were the start of Morgan’s passion for jazz.
At NIU, Morgan was fortunate enough to have a lot of doors open up for her. She was able to take primary lessons with Geof Bradfield on saxophone and Marlene Rosenberg on bass once she made the instrument switch, learning a great deal from both. She was also able to work in an Independent Study environment with Bobby Broom and Rodrigo Villanueva Conroy. Morgan has been honored to share the stage at NIU with a number of great musicians she respects, such as Professor Reggie Thomas, Babbie Mason, and the aforementioned Professors Bobby Broom and Rodrigo Villanueva Conroy. She has also had the chance to play at several of her favorite venues, such as Fulton Street Collective, Cafe Coda, The Jazz Showcase, and many more.
During her time at NIU, she had a chance to hone her skills in composition and arranging as well as her performance skills. Her compositions have been featured on WNIJ, Northern’s public radio station, as well as in numerous performances within both her own groups and others.
In Summer of 2022, Morgan and a group of her peers in the group IRIS were one of four groups selected out of applicants nationwide to participate in the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Jazz Academy small group session in Aspen, CO. There she had the chance to work with Etienne Charles, Chuck Bergeron, Brian Lynch, among many other fantastic musicians, all while performing several nights a week around Aspen.
As an educator, Morgan loves to work with musicians of all ages and skill levels, and not just on bass. Her unconventional musical path allows her to teach music theory, piano, guitar, and woodwind instruments as well. Morgan’s educational philosophy is that there is no one size fits all approach to teaching and students learn best when they are met where they are, regardless of what that may look like. Students each learn in different ways at different paces, and any gaps can be filled in along the way.
Currently, Morgan is looking forward to continuing to lead and write for her own project, Morgan Turner's Modern Myth, a quintet that blends contemporary jazz and folk music through original compositions. She also plays regularly with the band IRIS, a collective of peers performing original music in the jazz tradition (EP expected 2023). She is also excited to continue collaborating with others, and seeing how she can aid in bringing their music to life.