The One O’Clock Lab Band is the premier performing ensemble of the internationally acclaimed University of North Texas jazz studies program. Jay Saunders is director of the One O’Clock Lab Band. With an unprecedented six Grammy nominations (Lab 2009 received double nominations for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble" and "Best Instrumental Composition" for Ice-Nine composed by Steve Wiest) resulting from the library of over fifty critically acclaimed Lab Band recordings to date, the One O’Clock Lab Band is noted for exceptional individual musicianship and tight ensemble performance. One O’Clock Lab Band concerts feature the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson libraries (both housed exclusively at North Texas), original compositions by Grammy-nominated composers Neil Slater and Steve Wiest, jazz faculty member Rich DeRosa, and the wealth of compositions and arrangements in the UNT jazz library written by current and former North Texas students.
The One O’Clock frequently appears in major jazz venues such as Birdland (NYC), Blues Alley (DC), Catalina's (LA), and as the headliner at jazz festivals, major music conferences, and concerts hosted by numerous fine arts series, colleges and high schools across the United States, Canada, and around the world.
Alumni of the North Texas jazz program are virtually everywhere in the professional music industry as performing artists and jazz educators. The list of significant names runs the gamut from Jimmy Giuffre and Herb Ellis, to Bob Dorough, Jack Petersen, Bob Morgan, Marvin Stamm, Ed Soph, Billy Harper, Dan Haerle, Bruce Fowler, Gary Grant, Jay Saunders, Dean Parks, Chuck Schmidt, Fred Sturm, Jim Riggs, Lou Marini and Tom “Bones” Malone; from Lyle Mays, John Riley, Mike Steinel, Joe Eckert, Rodney Booth, Bev Dahlke-Smith, Dennis Irwin, Marc Johnson and Steve Houghton, to Dan Higgins, John Murphy, Conrad Herwig, Jim Snidero, Greg Bissonette, Bob Belden, Mike Williams, Steve Wiest, Frank Greene, Brad Leali, Shelley Carrol, Glenn Kostur, Earl Harvin, Pete McCann, Joe Jackson, Craig Johnson and Stefan Karlsson; from Brad Turner, Jim White, Vern Sielert, Scott Harrell, Mike Pope, Henry Hey and Keith Carlock, to Scott Englebright, Pete DeSiena, Adolfo Acosta, Alan Baylock, Rosana Eckert, Tim Miller, Ari Hoenig, Stockton Helbing, Ross Pederson and Norah Jones.
An ongoing tradition at North Texas is to bring major jazz figures to campus to perform and interact with students. This is achieved through four means – the Annual Fall Concert (since 1959), the Jazz Lecture Series (since 1982), the Gomez International Artist Endowment residency (since 1995), and the various instrumental clubs organized by UNT students. The list of legendary jazz artists (performers, composers, and scholars) who have shared their music and experience with North Texas students and faculty is formidable. Bringing this wealth of information to Denton is a key element in the success of the North Texas jazz program.
The jazz degree program at North Texas began in 1947 under Dr. Gene Hall, gained national recognition under Dr. Leon Breeden, and achieved international renown under Neil Slater. The UNT jazz faculty, currently chaired by John Murphy, is the foundation of the North Texas jazz studies division. Thirteen full-time faculty members provide UNT jazz studies students with an educational environment unparalleled among university programs.