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University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band: Lab 2018: The Rhythm of the Road (North Texas Jazz)

A review of the 2018 album from UNT's premier jazz ensemble

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University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2018: The Rhythm of the Road
The cover of Lab 2018: The Rhythm of the Road by the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band

Musical riches abound on this showcase for the One O’Clock Lab Band, UNT’s premiere jazz ensemble, which has been recording yearly since 1967. This edition’s members hail from the U.S., Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Japan, and Taiwan.

Saxophonist Brandon Moore, who graduated with a master’s degree in May 2018, contributed two fine originals and arranged two other tracks. His “The Rhythm of the Road” rides hard over drummer John Sturino’s infectious shuffle beat, while crisp section work punctuates the solos and clever interplay by trombonist Brian Woodbury and alto saxophonist Kyle Bellaire. Moore and guitarist Daniel Pinilla are featured on the saxophonist’s arrangement of Chris Potter’s funky, panoramic “Train.” “Blues for Kazu” was written by Moore to showcase Cootie Williams-influenced trumpeter Kazunori Tanaka. Bassist Paul Reyes drops in a tasty solo that contrasts with Tanaka’s plunger-mute artistry. Tight ensemble work underscores its deep blues feel.

Sturino arranged the boppish opening track, Victor Lewis’ “Hey, It’s Me You’re Talkin’ To,” which features saxophonist Will Nathman and trumpeter Gregory Newman. Grad student Kyle Gordon’s delicate arrangement of Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” offers a beautiful change of pace, showcasing Marion Powers’ wistful vocals. Faculty member Rich DeRosa’s “Birds of a Feather…” spotlights pianist Paul Lees, while Lab Band director Alan Baylock’s “Without a Doubt” features a blistering solo from Sam Cousineau on alto sax.

Woodbury arranged the band’s unusual 10/8 take on Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5,” blending Bach’s baroque sound with Brazilian folk influences and featuring trombonist DJ Rice and bassist Reyes. Moore arranged Coltrane’s dreamy ballad “After the Rain” to spotlight Brendon Wilkins (the band’s baritone sax player) on flute and Gregory Newman on flugelhorn. Cushioned by the full ensemble, they deliver mightily.

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