UNT's renowned One O'Clock Lab Band welcomes interim director

Jay Saunders
Jay Saunders, interim director of the One O'Clock Lab Band
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 11:52

DENTON, Texas (UNT) – The six-time Grammy nominated One O'Clock Lab Band will welcome Jay Saunders as interim director in the 2014-15 season.

Saunders, a College of Music alumnus and current director of the Two O'Clock Lab Band, will take the helm from Steve Wiest, who has accepted a faculty position at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.

As an undergraduate, Saunders was a member of the One O'Clock Lab Band and played two tours with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After graduation, he played lead trumpet in the Studio Band of the U.S. Army Field Band and rejoined Kenton's orchestra after he was discharged. He subsequently returned to UNT for his master of music education degree.

His professional career has included performances with major artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, Ray Charles, and The Supremes. Since the 1980s, Saunders has been a staple of the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene, as a performer with the Dallas Summer Musicals, Casa Mañana Musical Theater and pops concerts of the symphonies of Dallas and Fort Worth. His extensive recording career includes 11 albums with Stan Kenton as well as albums with Doc Severinsen and Ornette Coleman.

Saunders has served on the faculty of the College of Music's Division of Jazz Studies for 21 years, directing both the Three O'Clock and Two O'Clock lab bands. During his time as Two O'Clock director, the lab band won three DownBeat Student Music Awards.

"Jay has been a vital part of the jazz studies division for many years, and we are delighted that he has postponed his plans for retirement by one year to direct the One O'Clock Lab Band," said John Murphy, chair of the Division of Jazz Studies.

Wiest, an alumnus of the College of Music, was named director of the One O'Clock in 2009 after serving a year as interim director. In his first year as director, the band was nominated for two Grammy awards: Best Large Jazz Ensemble for Lab 2009 and Best Instrumental Composition for Wiest's composition "Ice-Nine." He also worked to bring the Maynard Ferguson library to UNT, established an online presence and mobile app for the One O'Clock, and led the band in performances throughout the U.S. and in Ireland, England, and Thailand.

"Steve accomplished a great deal in his time here and we wish him the best in his future endeavors," said Murphy. "We are confident that under Jay's leadership, the One O'Clock will continue to maintain its reputation as one of the best large jazz ensembles in the world."

Taking over the reins for the Two O'Clock Lab Band will be interim director Rodney Booth. Booth, currently the director of the UNT Jazz Repertory Ensemble, is a graduate of the College of Music's jazz studies program and a former One O'Clock Lab Band member. He has performed and recorded with many major recording artists, such as Lou Rawls, Wayne Newton, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole and Al Green. Booth is also active in studio and commercial recordings, and with his big band.

About the UNT One O'Clock Lab Band
The six-time Grammy-nominated UNT One O'Clock Lab Band – the premiere ensemble of UNT's Jazz Studies program in the College of Music – has performed and toured throughout the world, including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand and The Netherlands. UNT offered the nation's first bachelor's degree program in jazz studies in the 1946-47, and the university's jazz studies program is consistently rated among the nation's best.

About the UNT College of Music

The UNT College of Music is one of the largest and most respected comprehensive music schools in the country. More than 1,600 music students attend UNT each year, participating in more than 50 widely varied ensembles and pursuing specialized studies in performance, composition, music education or music scholarship. UNT faculty members and students have made appearances on the world's finest stages and have produced numerous recordings, many receiving Grammy awards and nominations. Distinguished UNT alumni can be found around the globe, in top music ensembles, opera companies, universities and schools.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108