The University of North Texas, home to the country's oldest, most honored and, many would say, explicitly outstanding Jazz Studies program, has a number of topnotch big bands in the stable, each of which is named after its specific rehearsal time. While the One O'Clock Lab Band, which has been recorded most often, is best known among them, the distance between the top two or three is so slender as to be immaterial. Hard on the heels of the One O'Clock's most recent album, Lab 2013, comes this kindred gem from the Two O'Clock Band, which is so decisively proficient ...read more
The University of North Texas is situated in Denton, a city of roughly 120,000 less than an hour's drive northwest from Dallas / Fort Worth. To students at UNT as well as its year-round residents, Denton is home, even if in the former case a home away from home. And speaking of home, the university is home to the country's oldest and most celebrated Jazz Studies program, anchored by the superlative One O'Clock Lab Band whose members are special and whose alumni comprise a who's who of top-rank professional jazz musicians. To honor their adopted home, the One O'Clock Band ...read more
The challenge when reviewing an album by any of the University of North Texas' superlative jazz ensembles is to find something to criticize. Perhaps you can; I can't. This is decisively true of the seventh recording by the UNT Two O'Clock Lab Band under the able direction of James Riggs, who has been at the helm for more than twenty-six years. There may be a misstep or two along the way, but none that my unrefined ears can detect. While UNT no longer boasts the only world-class Jazz Studies program, as it once did, it remains among the best in ...read more
When one thinks of Jazz at the University of North Texas, it's usually in connection with one or more of UNT's exemplary big bands, which have been winning awards and earning applause for nearly half a century. But there's much more to the school's Jazz Studies program than synchronous reeds and shouting brass, as this largely engaging album of chamber jazz affirms.
The four groups represented here range from trio to sextet, all supervised by UNT professor Stefan Karlsson, a superb pianist in his own right who succeeded Dan Haerle as director of the UNT Jazz Combo program. Eight of ...read more
Hard as it may be to believe, this is the twenty-third annual Lab" album produced by UNT's preeminent One O'Clock Lab Band during Neil Slater's tenure as director, one for each year he has been at the helm. Even harder to accept is that the albums keep getting better with each passing year; Lab 2004 is a corker from start to finish, perhaps one of the finest the band has ever released. (But we say that every year, don't we?)
In our fast-paced, rapidly changing world, one thing the UNT Jazz Studies program has going for it is consistency. In ...read more
Another year, another strenuous final exam for the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band. What’s the grade? Let’s see . . . well (this is becoming rather monotonous), after adding up the score, it appears to be an unequivocal A-plus. In other words, the One O’Clock Band, now more than half a century old, continues to play an error-free game, as it has for most of those years.
Director Neil Slater, never one to tone down a test, hurls the students into deep water without hesitation, virtually daring them to sink or swim as he says take “That!” ...read more
The University of North Texas at Denton, home to the country’s oldest and most honored Jazz Studies program, has a number of excellent jazz ensembles, the cream of which is its One O’Clock Lab Band, here represented in the latest of a series of annual recordings that began nearly half a century ago. Since that time UNT has seen a large number of its alumni achieve notable careers as musicians and / or educators, and the young men who comprise director Neil Slater’s Lab 2002 do their best to safeguard that heritage.
As in years past the assignment ...read more