UNT Regents Professor and Faculty Emeritus Dan Haerle formed The Zebras in 1980 to give keyboard players a special opportunity to work with electronic instruments. The group explored a wide variety of music, focusing on an eclectic mix of jazz fusion, funk, soul, and pop, often including a horn section and vocalists. Some semesters the Zebras would perform the music of a particular artist or group, such as Stevie Wonder, the Pat Metheny Group, Chick Corea, and Al Jarreau.
The group has toured extensively, including a performance at the 2002 IAJE convention in Long Beach, CA.
Now directed by UNT Jazz Division Chair and Professor of lead trumpet Rob Parton, along with teaching fellow assistance, the Commercial Music Lab (formerly known as Zebras) is an ensemble in the UNT Jazz Studies division that continues that tradition of offering students a chance to perform music they would not experience in other labs within the College of Music.
The Zebras album The Flamenco Jazz Project exemplifies the diversity of repertoire wielded by this outstanding ensemble. The current focus of the Commercial Music Lab repertoire is horn-based bands similar to the classics such as Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire, as well as newer contemporary bands like Bruno Mars. High-energy performances are what the Commercial Music Lab is known to deliver, and that UNT tradition continues.
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