Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Big Band CD of the Month - "One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2019"
One O'Clock Lab Band: "Lab 2019" (UNT)
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)
The University of North Texas's renowned One O'Clock Lab Band maintains its uncanny aptitude for both timeliness and timelessness with the November 22 release of Lab 2019 (North Texas Jazz). The latest installment in an annual series that has continued since 1967, the album features six original student compositions, five of them by members of the 20-piece student ensemble, as well as two standards with new student-penned arrangements.
In addition, it offers new work by two of UNT's jazz faculty members and prolific Lab Band contributors: Grammy-nominated composer Rich DeRosa, the school's Director of Jazz Composition and Arranging, and Alan Baylock, the acclaimed big band veteran (Airmen of Note, Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra) and director of the One O'Clock Lab Band.
This 53rd recorded iteration of the Lab Band (named for its long-entrenched rehearsal time) finds the institution in danger of losing neither inspiration, nor its long-held place in the elite of collegiate jazz ensembles. "We want everyone to know that the great UNT tradition going back many years is still alive and well," says Baylock in marking his third year of directorship.
DeRosa is a legendary figure among jazz composers and has written a new piece for the One O'Clock Lab Band each year since his arrival at UNT in 2010. "Al-Go-Rhythm" ranks among his most thrillingly ingenious: subtitled "A 21st Century Take on a Gershwin Tune," it's an abstraction of "I Got Rhythm," recognizable by its chord changes and increasingly sneaky use of melodic motifs from the original. Jazz lovers will also identify it with the relentless swing that for DeRosa is as essential an ingredient as Gershwin's notes.
With Breeden as its director, the band performed at venues ranging from Birdland to the White House; toured worldwide; and in 1967 began recording its annual albums at the request of legendary Voice of America broadcaster Willis Conover. Eight years later, the One O'Clock Lab Band became the first college band to be nominated for a Grammy Award. (It has been nominated seven times in all.)
Alumni of the UNT One O'Clock Lab Band include Billy Harper, Bob Belden, Jim Snidero, and Ari Hoenig.
Gary Smulyan is guest artist for the One O'Clock Lab Band's 59th Annual Fall Concert/Lab 2019 CD Release Event, to be held at Winspear Performance Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center, Denton, TX, on Tuesday 11/26 at 7:30pm. (Tickets: https://thempac.music.unt.edu/) Craig Marshall, longtime manager and producer for the band, notes that "This is a time when our fans really look forward to hearing the current band live and purchasing the latest recording in person."
The One O'Clock Lab Band will also be performing at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, on Saturday and Sunday, January 18-19, 2020, having been invited to participate in the first Rudin Jazz Championship for collegiate jazz bands. Ten college bands will spend two days participating in workshops, a combo showcase in the Appel Room, and a friendly competition of big bands.
Web Sites: jazz.unt.edu | theoneoclock.com