King of Thailand treated to jazz Texas style
As a member of the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band — the nation’s only student band to receive four Grammy nominations — Carl Murr is no stranger to high standards. But his most recent gig came with a Royal standard, and that made him “a bit nervous.”“There’s always a lot of pressure involved with creating an arrangement because you have to change certain things in the music,” Murr said. “But with these two pieces, I was particularly careful to remain as true as possible what was written originally.”The two pieces were written by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, and Murr orchestrated them for the One O’Clock Lab Band, which performed a private concert for His Majesty when the University of North Texas presented the King with a doctor of music composition and performance honoris causa March 17.The degree recognizes His Majesty the King’s skill in composition and performance in all genres of music, but particularly jazz and blues. An accomplished player of saxophone, piano, clarinet and guitar, King Bhumibol Adulyadej has performed with such legendary musicians as Jack Teagarden, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and Stan Getz. As a monarch and a musician, King Bhumibol Adulyadej has worked to link the Eastern and Western music traditions.And according to Aaron Lington, a three-year member of the One O’Clock Lab Band, His Majesty is well known and respected in saxophone circles.“Because it’s kind of unique for a world leader to be so intimately involved in music, it’s something that other saxophonists know,” Lington said. “I’ve known about him as a saxophone performer for a long time, and it’s truly an honor to perform for him.”While in Thailand, the One O’Clock Lab Band also performed a public concert in Bangkok and presented a daylong workshop on jazz at Chulalongkorn University for Thai university students studying music. Neil Slater, director of the One O’Clock Lab Band, said the concerts were a wonderful opportunity for the group to further its international reputation.The band has long been recognized around the world as a premiere jazz ensemble. It has been invited to perform in Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Russia and throughout the United States.Named for its practice hour, the One O’Clock is the top-ranked ensemble of the nine jazz bands at UNT. The band has released 56 recordings and received a national citation for “significant and lasting contributions to the cause of music in America” from Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national music fraternity.Even though the band’s membership changes each semester, the quality and sound of the One O’Clock remains distinctive. And Slater said that’s because “we seriously go for detail.”“It always seems to me to be creatively on the edge,” he said of the band’s sound. “In terms of energy, it’s always powerful, so whether we’re playing something fast or slow, the energy is so powerful, and I think that’s because we spend a lot of time on the intricacies of the music and we work on playing in tune within the band in a way that most groups don’t.”UNT offered the nation’s first bachelor’s degree program in jazz studies, developed in 1947. Master’s and doctoral degree programs in jazz were added later.