One O'Clock Lab Band

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One O'Clock Lab Band
Poster: 2009 Performance in New York
Poster: 2009 Performance in New York
Background information
OriginDenton, Texas
Years active1948–present

One O'Clock Lab Band is an ensemble of the Jazz Studies division at the University of North Texas College of Music in Denton, Texas. Since the 1970s, the band's albums have received several Grammy Award nominations, including two for Lab 2009. Steve Wiest directed the band from 2008 to 2014.[1] Jay Saunders became interim director in 2014.[2]

The One O'Clock Lab Band is the highest of nine lab bands at the college. Each band is named for its hour of rehearsal and each contains 19-pieces: five trumpets, five trombones, five saxophones, piano, guitar, double bass, and drums.[3] The One O'Clock band evolved from an extracurricular stage band founded in 1927 into a curricular laboratory dance band in 1947 when North Texas began its jazz degree program.


Beginning in 1927, faculty member Floyd Graham began directing and emceeing Saturday night stage shows at North Texas State Teachers College, planning the programs and holding auditions every Saturday afternoon for prospective entertainers. As early as 1923, WBAP in Fort Worth broadcast a nationally syndicated show of the stage band on Friday nights.[4] These performances were directed by James Willis Smith, professor of mathematics at North Texas from 1908 to 1927. Students in the Stage Band included Ann Sheridan, Joan Blondell, Louise Tobin, actress Nancy Jane Gates, [5] and the Moonbeams.[6]

"Lab Band" is the shortened form of "Laboratory Dance Band", a name given by founding director Gene Hall in 1946. "Laboratory" suggested experimenting in different configurations: band, choir, orchestra, chamber groups, and keyboard and guitar ensembles. During the 1960s, the word "dance" was removed to reflect an interest in different kinds of big band music, and "One O'Clock" was added by Leon Breeden. The academic degree Dance Band remained until 1978, when it was renamed Jazz Education, then Jazz Studies in 1981. When Breeden became band director in 1959, there were four lab bands, and they were called "units": One O'Clock, Two O'Clock, Three O'Clock, and Five O'Clock. The Two O'Clock was the premier band,[7] known as Laboratory Dance Band A.

The Aces band was directed by Floyd Graham. The band evolved out of the Saturday Night Stage Shows that were presented weekly from 1927 to 1961. Every year from 1962 to 1970 the Aces traveled and performed with other acts for civic organizations, veterans' hospitals, on WFAA radio, and at military bases in Texas.[8]

Willis Conover, jazz host on Voice of America, broadcast six nights a week to an audience that, at the peak of the Cold War, was estimated to be 30 million regular listeners in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union — and as many as 100 million worldwide.[9] Conover, who had heard the One O'Clock Lab Band several times, including as judge at the 1960 Notre Dame Jazz Festival (when Leonard Bernstein was on the festival's board), asked Leon Breeden, in 1967, for recordings of certain numbers. Later that year, Conover featured the One O'Clock Lab Band in an hour broadcast to an estimated audience of 40 million.[10] Every year thereafter, the One O'Clock supplied a professional quality studio engineered album to Conover.

Major tours, festivals, concerts[edit]

Under the direction of Gene Hall[edit]

  • 1952 – Awarded Fifth Place in a nationwide contest for the best college dance band[11]
  • Spring 1956 – "The Five Front Combo," an 8-member group (directed by Gene Hall) from the Lab Bands, appeared on NBC's Steve Allen The Tonight Show broadcast from Fort Worth
  • Nov 23, 1958, 7 to 7:30 PM – Under the direction of Gene Hall performed the region's first live stereo broadcast (from Fort Worth), using two microphones, one to KFJZ-TV (Channel 11) and one to KFJZ radio 1270 AM. The producers instructed listeners to turn on both their radio and TV and place them eight feet apart. The band performed seven arrangements (stage manager, Jack Harris; broadcast producer, Buddy Turner)[12]
  • 1959 – Awarded Third Place in a contest among 183 bands for Best New Dance Band of 1959 sponsored by the American Federation of Musicians and the National Ballroom Operators Association, reaching the finals on May 11, 1959, at Roseland Dance City in New York City. It was the only college band of the final field of four.[11][13] A Los Angeles group – the Claude Gordon Orchestra (with North Texas ex-student Cecil Hill in the saxophone section) – won First Place.[14]

Under the direction of Leon Breeden[edit]

  • Summer 1960 – Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival; the Lab Band was Awarded Finest Jazz Group and Best Big Band and Marv Stamm was awarded best instrumentalist and trumpet player.
  • Aug 14-28, 1960 – The Lab Band was the demonstration band at the Stan Kenton National Band Camp at Indiana University[15]
  • Summer 1961 – Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival; the Lab Band was Awarded Finest Jazz Group and Best Big Band; Morgan Powell won Most Promising Trombone Award. Outstanding Soloists Awards given to Tom Wirtel, Trumpet; Toby Guynn, Bass; and Don Gililland, Guitar.
  • Summer 1962 – Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival
  • 1967 – Concert tour of Mexico, sponsored by the US State Department Office of Cultural Presentations.[16]
  • June 27, 1967 – After a 30-day concert tour, the One O'Clock Performed at a White House dinner for President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson and the King and Queen of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927–2016) and Queen Sirikit (born 1932).[17] In 2003, the University of North Texas awarded His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand an Honorary Doctorate in Music. During the White House performance, Duke Ellington performed with the One O'Clock, playing "Take the A Train"[18][19] Stan Getz also performed with the One O'Clock at the White House.[11]
  • Summer 1970 – Served as the official Big Band of the Montreux Jazz Festival in June, the One O'Clock performed throughout Europe during a three-week concert tour.[20][21]
  • Summer 1973 – Serving again as the official Jazz Internatale Demonstration Big Band of the Montreux Jazz Festival, the One O'Clock toured from July 2 to July 24, performing in Vienna and Munich.
  • December 9, 1973 – At the request of Tony Bennett, the One performed with him in a live telecast from San Antonio
  • Fall 1974 – In an experiment that enjoyed success, The One O'Clock Lab Band entered into a three-month contract to be the weekend (Fri-Sun) house band at a Dallas dinner club, which was part of an 11-leveled discothèque owned by Ronald Jackie Monesson (1930–1995) called "Oz" at 5429 LBJ Freeway. What amounted to a full scholarship, Lab Band members were paid slightly above union wages.[22]
  • 1976 June 3-July 8 – The One O'Clock Lab Band toured the Soviet Union (Moscow, Volgograd, and Yerevan), Portugal, and England — 5 cities, 25 concerts, 77 encores, 82,800 people. The tour was sponsored by the US Department of State as part of a US Bicentennial goodwill arts outreach. NBC broadcast the One O'Clock's July 4 Concert live from Moscow as part of its US Bicentennial commemorative. While on tour, members of the band held jam sessions with musicians from Moscow, Volgograd, and Yerevan. Breeden submitted to Soviet authorities a list of 96 arrangements, with descriptions, representing 10 hours of music intended for two-hour concerts. Without explanation, Soviet censorship|Soviet censors strictly prohibited two arrangements, St. Thomas (song)|St. Thomas (by Sonny Rollins, arranged by Gene Glover) and Mi Burrito (by Raymond Harry Brown). Without announcing the names of the arrangements, the band played both pieces during its July 4 NBC satellite broadcast without incident.[23] The tour came at the request of a visitor from the Kremlin who had been treated to four performances intended to exemplify US excellence in the arts – first the Metropolitan Opera, then the rock group Chicago (band)|Chicago, then a ballet company, then the One O'Clock.[24] While the One O'Clock performed in Soviet cities where no American cultural group had performed, they were met by fans who knew the band from broadcasts by the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Willis Conover, jazz host on Voice of America, was a judge at the 1960 Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1960. (see Conover Collection at UNT) The tour group included the first woman band member, Bev Dahlke (now Dahlke-Smith) (baritone sax).[25]
  • Summer 1977 – Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston, SC; the One O'Clock Lab Band, Phil Woods, Louie Bellson, Urbie Green, and Johnny Helms were the performers invited to perform jazz at first-ever Spoleto festival in the Americas.[26][27] Since its 1958 founding in Italy by Gian Carlo Menotti, jazz had never been performed at a Spoleto event. Since its US spinoff debut in 1977 – Spoleto USA – jazz has played an integral role in what has become the largest performing arts festival in the Americas, dwarfing its Old World parent.[28][29]
  • Summer 1978 – Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston, SC
  • Summer 1979 – Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston, SC; the One O'Clock received featured billing along with Buddy Rich, Phil Woods, and Woody Herman

Under the direction of Neil Slater[edit]

  • Summer 1996 – The One O'Clock performed during a three-week tour of Japan and spent a week in Hong Kong.
  • July 2008 – The One O'Clock performed at major jazz festivals in western Europe, including the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the Umbria Jazz Festival, in Perugia, Umbria, Italy. The tour also included performances at venues in Brienz, Switzerland, Vienne, Isère|Vienne, France, and Rüdesheim am Rhein|Rüdesheim, Germany.

Under the direction of Steve Wiest[edit]

  • March 2009 – The One O'Clock performed at Birdland, New York. This was the One O'Clock's New York debut under the direction of Steve Wiest.
  • July 2009 – The One O'Clock performed at the World Saxophone Congress XV in Bangkok, Thailand with James Carter (musician)|James Carter and UNT alumnus Brad Leali
  • January and February 2010 – The University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band toured California while attending the 2010 Grammys


1924–1927 James Willis Smith
Professor of mathematics from 1908 to 1927, founded the "college band."
1927–1947 Floyd Graham
Founded several musical groups, including The Aces of Collegeland, a pit orchestra for silent films, and stage bands for weekly variety shows – none of these musical groups were ever offered for college credit.
1946–1947 Charles Holton Meeks
Grad student, fill-in for Gene Hall.[30][31][32]

1947–1959 Gene Hall
Conceived and founded jazz education leading to a degree at a university and was the Lab Band's first director.
1949–1950 Claude R. Lakey
A saxophonist and student at North Texas (graduated 1950), by invitation of Gene Hall, conducted what then was the Two O'Clock Laboratory Dance Band (the forerunner to the One O'Clock). Before attending North Texas, Lakey had been a member of the Gene Krupa, Harry James (5 years, 7 movies, numerous recordings) Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller Orchestras.
1959–1981 Leon Breeden
Chaired the Jazz Studies Division and directed the One O'Clock for twenty-two years.
1981–2008 Neil Slater Served dual roles for twenty-seven years — (i) Chair of the Jazz Studies Division and (ii) Director of the One O'Clock — the longest tenure held in either role. Among other things, Slater is credited for having developed more emphasis on small groups and adding a master's curriculum in jazz, which, according to music journalist John Morthland, improved the overall quality of the lab bands. He also formally integrated jazz studies classes with lab band experience.[33]
2008–2014 Steve Wiest Became the One O'Clock's fourth director March 2009, after having served as interim director the year prior.
2014–2016 Jay Saunders Had been director of the Two O'Clock Lab Band; became interim director in 2014.
2016–present Alan Baylock In April 2015, the College of Music appointed Baylock as Director of the One O'Clock Lab Band, commencing Fall 2016.[34]

Notable alumni[edit]

1924-1937 – Stage Band, Dance Band, Pit Orchestra; 1937-1949 – The Aces of Collegeland

1947-1959 – Laboratory Dance Bands

1959–1969 One O'Clock Lab Band






  • Addison Frei
  • Drew Zaremba
  • Matt Young
  • John Sturino
  • Nolan Byrd

Student & faculty composers/arrangers for the One O'Clock (non-members)


  • North Texas Lab Band (90th Floor, 1961)
  • LAB '67! (NTSU Jazz, 1967)
  • Lab '68 (Precision, 1968)
  • Fall '69 Big Band Concert (NTSU Jazz, 1969)
  • Lab '69 (Century, 1969)
  • Lab '70! (Century, 1970)
  • Annual Spring Concert of the Lab Bands, April 14, 1970 (Century, 1970)
  • Fall '70/Spring '71 (NTSU Jazz, 1971)
  • Lab '71 (NTSU Jazz, 1971)
  • 12 by 3 (Creative Jazz Composers, 1971)
  • Live! the North Texas Lab Bands, Fall and Spring Concerts, 1970/1971 (Precision, 1971)
  • Lab 72 (Precision, 1972)
  • Early Tracks by John Monaghan (NTSU Jazz, 1972)
  • Live '72/'73 (NTSU Jazz, 1972)
  • Lab '73 (NTSU Jazz, 1973)
  • Live! (Precision, 1973)
  • Lab '74! (Precision, 1974)
  • Lab '75 (NTSU Jazz, 1975)
  • A Jazz Clinic by Leon Breeden (Crest, 1975)
  • Lab '76 (NTSU Jazz, 1976)
  • Lab '77 (NTSU Jazz, 1977)
  • Lab '78! (NTSU Jazz, 1978)
  • Texas Music Educators Association Silver (Crest, 1979)
  • Jazz at Spoleto '77 (Left Bank Jazz Society, 1978)
  • Lab 79 (NTSU Jazz, 1979)
  • Lab 80 (NTSU Jazz, 1980)
  • Lab '81 Commemorative (NTSU Jazz, 1981)
  • European Tour '82 (NTSU Jazz, 1982)
  • Lab 82 (NTSU Jazz, 1982)
  • Lab '83 (NTSU Jazz, 1983)
  • Lab 84 (NTSU Jazz, 1984)
  • Lab 85 (North Texas, 1985)
  • Lab 86 (North Texas Jazz, 1986)
  • With Respect to Stan (North Texas Jazz, 1986)
  • Live in Australia the 1986 Tour (North Texas Jazz, 1987)
  • Lab 87 (North Texas Jazz, 1987)
  • Lab 88 (North Texas Jazz, 1988)
  • Lab 89 (North Texas Jazz, 1989)
  • Lab 90 (North Texas Jazz, 1990)
  • Lab 91 (North Texas Jazz, 1991)
  • Lab 92 (North Texas Jazz, 1992)
  • Lab '93 (North Texas Jazz, 1993)
  • Live in Portugal (North Texas Jazz, 1994)
  • One O'Clock Standard Time (North Texas Jazz, 1994)
  • Lab 94 (North Texas Jazz, 1994)
  • Lab 95 (North Texas Jazz, 1995)
  • Lab '96 (North Texas Jazz, 1996)
  • Lab 97 (North Texas Jazz, 1997)
  • Lab '98 (North Texas Jazz, 1998)
  • Lab '99 (North Texas Jazz, 1999)
  • Lab 2000 (North Texas Jazz, 2000)
  • Lab 2001 (North Texas Jazz, 2001)
  • Lab 2002 (North Texas Jazz, 2002)
  • Lab 2003 (North Texas Jazz, 2003)
  • Lab 2004 (North Texas Jazz, 2004)
  • Live from Thailand (North Texas Jazz, 2004)
  • Circa 1960 (90th Floor, 2004)
  • 2004 Midwest Clinic (Mark, 2005)
  • Lab 2005 (North Texas Jazz, 2005)
  • Lab 2006 (North Texas Jazz, 2006)
  • Lab 2007 (North Texas Jazz, 2007)
  • Live at Blues Alley (North Texas Jazz, 2007)
  • Lab 2008 (North Texas Jazz, 2008)
  • Lab 2009 (North Texas Jazz, 2009)
  • Lab 2010 (North Texas Jazz, 2010)
  • Lab 2011 (North Texas Jazz, 2011)
  • Lab 2012 (North Texas Jazz, 2012)
  • Lab 2013 (North Texas Jazz, 2013)
  • Lab 2014 (North Texas Jazz, 2014)
  • Lab 2015 (North Texas Jazz, 2015)
  • Lab '16 (North Texas Jazz, 2016)
  • Lab 2017 (North Texas Jazz, 2017)
  • Lab 2018 (North Texas Jazz, 2018)
  • Lab 2019 (North Texas Jazz, 2019)


  1. ^ Ellen Rossetti (born 1978), "UNT One O'Clock Lab Band to perform with Houston Symphony," JazzTimes, November 8, 2010
  2. ^ "One O'Clock Lab Band Welcomes Jay Saunders as Interim Director," UNT News Service, April 4, 2014
  3. ^ "Jazz Leader Helps a Band Take Giant Steps," by Eric Todd Kelderman (born 1966), Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 54, No. 48, August 2008, pg. A6
  4. ^ "Radio: What's in the Air," The Troy Times, (Troy, New York) May 17, 1923, pg. 13, col. 6
  5. ^ "Famous Teachers College Stage Band ... ," Denton Record-Chronicle, September 22, 1939, pg. 7
  6. ^ "Moonmaids' Return to Campus," Denton Record-Chronicle, November 6, 1970, pg. 8B
  7. ^ "New York Vets: Jazz Band Unit Gets Dallas Date," Denton Record-Chronicle, November 3, 1959, pg. 3
  8. ^ "Elliot Finally Returns to Bands After 25 Years of 'Long Tour,'" by Ken Molberg, North Texas Daily, Vol. 55, No. 32, Ed. 1, October 27, 1971, pg. 2
  9. ^ "Willis Conover Is Dead at 75; Aimed Jazz at the Soviet Bloc," by Robert McGill Thomas, Jr. (1940–2000), New York Times, May 19, 1996
  10. ^ "Lab Bands in Concert," Denton Record-Chronicle, March 31, 1967, pg. 8
  11. ^ a b c "Jazz Educated, Man; A Sound Foundation", by Philip Allen Scott, American International Publishers, Washington, D.C. (1973), pps. 19–20, OCLC 624548 LCCN 73-159620
  12. ^ "N.T. Band to Give Area's First Live Stereo Show," Denton Record-Chronicle, November 23, 1958, Sec 2, pg. 6
  13. ^ "AFM 'New-Band-of-Year' Project in Full Swing," Billboard, December 8, 1958, pg. 3
  14. ^ "Los Angeles Band winds Dance Title," New York Times, May 12, 1959
  15. ^ "Stan Kenton: Lab Band at Indiana for Event," Denton Record-Chronicle, August 14, 1960, Sec. 2, pg. 6
  16. ^ "Musical Ambassadors: NTSU 1 O'Clock Lab Band Invited to Tour Mexico," Denton Record-Chronicle, November 10, 1966, Sec. 2, pg. 12
  17. ^ "Home Grown Shows Planned for White House Dinners," New York Times, May 30, 1967
  18. ^ "NTSU Acquires Duke Ellington Lore," Dallas Morning News, September 11, 1968
  19. ^ "People," Time, July 7, 1967
  20. ^ "Leon Breeden, Ex-Director of University of North Texas jazz Program, Dies at 88," Dallas Morning News, August 12, 2010 (retrieved May 31, 2016)
  21. ^ "Life With Feather — College Jazz Band Scores," by Leonard Feather, Asbury Park Press, April 23, 1972, pg. 111
  22. ^ "NT Musical 'Wizards' Going to Oz," Denton Record-Chronicle, September 4, 1974, pg. 7D
  23. ^ "Lab Band Happy to be Home," by Joyce Hopkins, Denton Record-Chronicle, July 11, 1976
  24. ^ "Lab Band Sets Tour of Russia," by Joyce Hopkins, Denton Record-Chronicle, May 16, 1976
  25. ^ Denton Record-Chronicle, June 1, 1976, pg. 1
  26. ^ "Program History: 2008-1977," Spoleto Festival USA
  27. ^ "Top Names in Jazz Will Perform at S.C. Event," The Robesonian, Lumberton, NC, May 18, 1977
  28. ^ "Spoleto Festival USA," by Perry Tannenbaum, JazzTimes, March 25, 2008
  29. ^ "Seabrook Adds Jazz To Spoleto Festival," Florence Morning News, May 15, 1977, pg. 40 (retrieved May 31, 2016, via
  30. ^ Ennis Williams (pseudonym for William Ennis Thomson, Emeritus Professor and former Dean, School of Music, University of Southern California), "Wilfred C. Bain: A Reminiscence in Memoriam," College Music Symposium, Vol. 38, (1998), pps. 1–5, Published by: College Music Society
  31. ^ "Business World Explored: Musician Meeks Succeeds in Many Endeavors," Dallas Morning News, July 17, 1966
  32. ^ "Charles H. Meeks" (obituary), Dallas Morning News, July 28, 1976
  33. ^ "Out of Sync," by John Craig Morthland (born 1947), Texas Monthly, November 1992
  34. ^ "UNT's One O'Clock Lab Band Welcomes Alumnus, Composer as New Director," UNT News Service, May 18, 2015 (retrieved August 22, 2016)
  35. ^ "Lab Band Picks Personnel," Dallas Morning News, October 25, 1970
  36. ^ "Ashley Alexander, 52; Jazz Trombonist, Teacher" (obituary), Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1988
  37. ^ "Meet the Musician – Senior Chief Musician Luis Hernandez". United States Navy. Retrieved April 4, 2018.

External links[edit]