Denizens of Blogsville! What up?

So, 100+ degrees forecast for the entire week beginning with today. And if last year was any indication: the same forecast will stay in place for the rest of the summer (which ends in mid November).  Ah, the tender bucolic joys of the consistently brutal North Texas summers. Even the magnificent live oak that grace this hard-baked land seem to be saying “Really? Can it get any hotter? I mean DAYUM!” (see picture below)

OK…that is an anthropomorphically negative view of the above photo of a stately 1000-year old citizen of the Body-Tejas. You dig? I could say: “Even the trees in Texas are tough and laugh in the face of triple digit adversity. Yay and forsooth, ’tis the same with the citizenry: strong, adaptable, and tough as nails.” I could say that…but CRAP-DOGGIES it’s HOT!!!

A screenshot from my phone (right before it melted and slipped into an alternate dimension)

What to do? Since this is a blog about the One O’Clock…what are the mighty members of Lab 2012 up to this summer, and how are they dealing with this planet Mercury-like environment? Well, many of our intrepid students (after making sure the air conditioner in their cars and dorms/apartments are in fine working order and able to handle 24/7 operating conditions), hunker down for the canicule in Denton itself and take summer classes. And if they are not involved in said canicular curriculum (Come on now…that’s some FINE prose, ain’t it?), or even if they ARE, these same Dentonite eco-warriors take part in or put together their own performance opportunities…such as:

Summer Lab Band: A grand tradition where there are no auditions, just an open invitation to practice sight reading and summer-chop maintenance. Leon Breeden and Neil Slater used this as a place to check out new talent as well. This is my 5th summer to do the same and it is a blast! In the first 5-week session, the group is tied in with the Conducting a College Jazz Ensemble Course, where the students get “podium time” in front of the band.  Lab Band Manager-Deluxe Craig Marshall takes the band for the second session and reads giant stacks of music every week. A good time is had by all! (as long as the AC continues its life-sustaining thang.)

The Basie Tribute Big Band: Founded by a group of One O’Clock students including Dan Foster and Nick Wlordarczyk, this band does what it says: plays classic Basie charts. Could there be any more groovy concept in all the world? Nope. Now led by One O’Clock alum Devin Eddleman (soloist and alto sax II on Lab 2011), The Basie Tribute Band performs in the ultra-hip basement of a local establishment called The Abbey Inn. Set up in the style of an English Pub (mmmm…dark beer), it is the perfect location for a summer-time escape from the heat as well as an opportunity to continue honing one’s swing-skills. The group has developed a hefty book that, along with Basie classics, also include other modern big band favorites as well as some student charts.

The Tyler Mire Big Band: A new group launched recently by recent One O’Clock alum Tyler Mire (Lab 2012, 2010) this exciting Denton-based band plays charts by leader Tyler as well as tenor saxophonist and band member Aaron Hedenstrom (Lab 2012). As you can see by the nifty promo vid above (put together by the very talented Mr. Hedenstrom) the group has a great time and is made up of some of the best musicians around. They too performed at The Abbey Underground, but have also rehearsed on campus and have designs on getting out-and-about.

(Above) One O’Clock trombonist/composer Jenny Kellogg featured with famed One O’Clock alum Steve Houghton

Jazzcateers! Yep, that’s right: if you’re not already aware of this very cool summer activity..time to git hip. The Original Magic Kingdom: Disneyland in Anaheim, CA hosts The Disneyland All-American College Band every year. Under the direction of Dr Ron McCurdy (longtime friend, associate, and partner-in-crime of yours truly) this full-size modern jazz ensemble works all summer and gets to perform with a wide-range of guest artists. This year, current One O’Clock members Jenny Kellogg and Drew Zaremba joined recent grad Brian Clancy and current UNT Jazz trumpet student Stuart Mack for the multi-month adventure. A number of UNT students have come to us from this wonderful program including Tyler Mire and woodwind specialist Kelsey Pickford.

Here is a report from Drew Zaremba, tenor II and one of the composers for Lab 2012 who is playing lead alto with the Disney Band this summer:

“With only two weeks left in the Disneyland All-American College Band (AACB), I can say with certainty that this summer has been an incredibly enjoyable and educational experience. I am very proud to have so many North Texas musicians in the band; with myself, Jenny Kellogg, Stuart Mack, and Brian Clancy, the Jazz department certainly had a great showing!

As I previously stated, the program has been enjoyable but equally educational.  Perhaps the greatest benefit to the summer was hearing from the dozen or so clinicians who have come through to speak with and work with the band.   Many of these clinicians are active performers and writers such as Wycliffe Gordon, Wayne Burgeron, and Matt Harris, but a sizable number of people were past alumni of the band who spoke about how their careers took different directions and how they still found success in the music industry or other businesses.

Today we recorded at Capitol records!  It was a thrilling feeling to be in the same building where Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles recorded.  Our typical day however, consists of playing five sets a day, which we repeat five times a week, the majority of which is show band music, with one big band set and one marching band set.

The entire program has been a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a career in the music business because of the dynamic and educational nature of the program.”

Drew Zaremba in Action at The Swingin’ Kingdom

So how ’bout all that? To paraphrase Jurassic Park: “Jazz finds a way.” Indeed, even in the midst of brain-frying turn-your-car-hood-into-a-skillet Texas DAWG-Days…these resourceful and highly passionate students of jazz make sure to find ways to keep swingin’.

And THAT after all, is what it’s all about.

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About swiest2

Steve Wiest is a Trombonist-Composer-Cartoonist-Author and Coordinator of The 21st Century Music Initiative at The Lamont School of Music: The University of Denver

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