Noted jazz pianist and award-winning composer/arranger Neil Slater is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant recipient, and a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Grammy Award nominee. In 2008, Slater retired from his position as chair of the Division of Jazz Studies and Director of the internationally acclaimed UNT One O’ Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, Texas, and now holds the position of Professor Emeritus.
In addition to creating more than 70 compositions for jazz ensembles, Slater has written for symphony, mixed chamber groups, a cappella chorus and theater. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) bestowed its “Standard Award” upon Slater each year from 1987—2014. Many of Slater’s jazz ensemble compositions can be heard on the recordings of the UNT One O’ Clock Lab Band.
A renowned jazz educator, Slater has shared his expertise in clinics with students in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, and universities from Rhode Island to California. A former member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra-In-Residence program, Slater, a pianist, has recorded/performed with name artists including, Mel Lewis, Joe Morello, Sal Salvador, Frank Strozier, Don Elliott, Bill Watrous, and Danny Stiles.
During his 27-year tenure at UNT, Slater was principal architect in the establishment of a master of music degree in jazz studies, and has been credited with expanding the scope of its outstanding jazz studies program. In 1982 he established the UNT Jazz Lecture Series, which annually brings ten industry giants to UNT in lecture and recital settings; and under Slater’s direction in 1994, The Glenn E. Gomez International Artists Endowment for Jazz Studies artist-in-residence series was established. More than 300 students are enrolled in the UNT jazz program, which, in 1946—1947, was first in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree in jazz. Prior to his association at UNT, Slater founded the jazz studies program at the University of Bridgeport, CT.
Slater is featured in the PBS documentary, The State of Tomorrow, A Passion for Jazz. He has been highlighted as artist and conductor in the publications, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Downbeat Magazine, Instrumentalist, Texas Monthly, and Southern Living, and is included in Who’s Who in America. Additionally, he has been named Sammons Jazz Artist of the Year by the Sammons Center for the Arts, Dallas.
Named a Jazz Legend by the University of North Texas, Slater was honored alongside James Riggs in 2008 with the largest concert event in the history of the esteemed jazz program. He has been recognized with UNT’s prestigious President’s Award, and Honorary Alumnus Award. Neil Slater Day was proclaimed by the Town of Addison, TX in 2008, by the City of Denton, TX in 2008, and the the City of Bridgeport in 2016. He was conferred with a Congressional Citation for Outstanding Career from the Texas State House of Representatives in 2008; and in Spring 2017 Neil Slater was inducted to the City of Denton, Texas Arts Walk of Fame.