All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Neil Slater: Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
In 1942, a University of North Texas graduate music student, M. E. Hall, was asked to teach dance band arranging to two students, an activity that led to his thesis on a closely related topic. That thesis developed into the foundation of the school's jazz curriculum. Years later, Hall helped launch the jazz program which included establishing the Two O'Clock Lab Band, the first performing dance band ensemble to receive academic credits. In 1981, Neil Slater, became the Chair of Jazz Studies and director of the dance band and an additional ensemble called the One O'Clock Lab Band. The band has toured North and South America, Europe, and Asia and collected four Grammy nominations, including one for the director's arranging.

Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas is a four disc set that celebrates decades of exceptional output for a college band that has played at a level well beyond their years. More than that, the box set pays tribute to a prolific and diverse composer and arranger who drew the best from his charges. Among the better known artists to go through the UNT program—under Slater's One O'Clock Lab Band tenure—are saxophonists Bob Belden, Jim Snidero, Craig Handy and Tim Ries, trombonists Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre and Tom Brantley, drummers Gregg Bissonette and Ari Hoenig, Norah Jones and countless others.

Of the thirty-eight compositions on Legacy, only three were not penned by Slater. The final track of Disc Four, "Neil" (Grammy-nominated) was written in tribute to Slater by Rich DeRosa, UNT's director of Jazz Composition & Arranging. When Disc One opens with "Stuff," we hear that Slater is far more interested utilizing swing as part of a broader palette that incorporates many textures. "Keystone" is a darkly dramatic piece until broken up by fine tenor and piano solos, whereupon a swing rhythm takes over. Also from the 1980s disc, "Sky Window" is a beautifully atmospheric and noirish composition. It's either a function of time—or composition selection—that the improvisations become more intense and sophisticated by the third disc. Oscar Garza's tenor, and Matt Politano's trumpet solos soar on "This" as does Clay Pritchard's sax on "That." The energetic "Will or Would?" leads to DeRosa's finale, the almost bittersweet tribute to the master.

This comprehensive history demonstrates his mastery big band styles; he is equally adept in creating pastoral scenes as he is in executing a blues motif, and full-tilt swing. He expertly arranges to play to the strengths of his soloist: trombone and piano on "Partly Cloudy," saxophones and bass on "Sky Window," guitar on "Hourglass," and trumpet and piano on "Not Yet." For those who haven't spent much time listening to college jazz ensembles, or more specifically, not familiar with the twenty-seven year career of Neil Slater, Legacy is an ear-opening experience.

Track Listing: Disc One: The 1980s – Stuff; Keystone; Other Seasons; Partly Cloudy; Deuces; Signs; No Promises; Update; Common Ground; Sky Window. Disc Two: The 1990s – Values; Slow Heat; Threads; Hourglass; My Foolish Heart; Lead On, 0 King Eternal; Insider; Joker; Shadyside; Wink; NosePrints. Disc Three: The 2000s – Domain; Response; This; That; Look; Places; Both; Call Waiting; Side Effects; Separately Together. Disc Four: A New Era - Another Other; Time Sensitive; Not Yet; Special Interests; 3rd & 55th; Will or Would?; Neil.

Personnel: Neil Slater: composer, arranger, conductor; various artists (One O'Clock Lab Band).

Title: Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: UNT Music


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read This City CD/LP/Track Review
This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read West Coast Trio CD/LP/Track Review
West Coast Trio
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Sun Embassy CD/LP/Track Review
Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9 CD/LP/Track Review
The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "Small Pieces" CD/LP/Track Review Small Pieces
by James Nadal
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "UpRoot" CD/LP/Track Review UpRoot
by David Rocheleau-Houle
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "A Night Walking Through Mirrors" CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Rondane" CD/LP/Track Review Rondane
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 3, 2018
Read "No Excuses" CD/LP/Track Review No Excuses
by Thomas Earl
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "Tensegridad" CD/LP/Track Review Tensegridad
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 29, 2017