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Two O'Clock Lab Band | Nice! Jay Saunders' Best of the Two

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Jazz: Big Band Jazz: Modern Big Band Moods: Instrumental
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Nice! Jay Saunders' Best of the Two

by Two O'Clock Lab Band

Compilation of the very best of the Two O'Clock Lab Band under the direction of Jay Saunders. Two CDs with 18 tracks selected by Jay Saunders personally, this is sure to be a collectors item for alumni of the band and fans of big band jazz everywhere.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Top Fuel Pete vs. the Trav-Ski
5:57 $0.99
2. I Won't Dance
3:19 $0.99
3. When I'm Sixty Four
5:12 $0.99
4. Worth the Wait
8:44 $0.99
5. Sax Alley
3:34 $0.99
6. Three on a Tree Two
4:35 $0.99
7. Now
5:50 $0.99
8. My Foolish Heart
6:37 $0.99
9. Portuguese Soul
8:21 $0.99
10. Blue Daniel
4:51 $0.99
11. Earth
9:07 $0.99
12. I 8 da Whole Half Thing
7:45 $0.99
13. Infant Eyes
6:01 $0.99
14. Sink, Sank, Swunk
6:48 $0.99
15. Vaguely Reminiscent
8:21 $0.99
16. Nardis
4:04 $0.99
17. Detour Ahead
4:35 $0.99
18. Green Onions (Live)
8:15 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Putting these compilation CDs together was both a privilege and a painful experience, because easily 50% of the material these bands recorded was considered worthy for this project. Unfortunately, that was way too much time for two CDs. My ideal idea of including each soloist, student composition or arrangement, and band/lead player exemplary performance was still too much time. It started to become obvious that three selections per CD was going to have to be the guideline. I really didn’t want to give one band just one selection and give another band six, for example. With just a few selections from each band, I had to eliminate almost all of the vocal guests we had and that hurt, because those were among the finest tracks we recorded.

Then came the problem of programing and that made the choices even more difficult, and resulted in more painful changes. Geez, and to think I thought mixing was hard!

My sincerest apologies for having to omit so many of our finest soloist performances, ensemble performances, and student compositions we recorded. That part of the process was truly a huge drag and I certainly didn’t want to disappoint anyone and I hope all of you understand.

For those of you who weren’t aware of all of these CDs, but like the artistry of these bands, please check out these wonderful CDs in their entirety.

My thanks to all the members of the bands from these years. All of you created some wonderful music and I hope you had at least half as much fun as I did.

Jay Saunders
Director of the One O’Clock Lab Band, 2014–2016
Director of the Two O’Clock Lab Band, 2008–2014
Director of the Three O’Clock Lab Band, 2001–2008
University of North Texas


Top Fuel Pete vs. The Trav-ski — This was written by ex-Dallas composer and arranger Phil Kelly for his band’s next CD. Phil now resides in Bellingham, Washington and his band is called the Northwest Prevailing Winds. The original was constructed as a friendly saxophone battle for Pete Christlieb and Travis Ramsey; we feature our two alto saxophonists on this version. Brian Girley is up first for four choruses then lead alto Adam Hutcheson is on for four. They then trade eights, fours, and end in “jazz conversation.” There’s no place to hide for anyone in the band on this chart, and rather than being frightened by that fact, the whole band, especially the rhythm section, relishes in it. A bebop version of “Name That Tune” on the end puts the icing on the cake. (Dan Foster, lead trumpet)

I Won’t Dance — John Clayton wrote this chart to feature himself in his own band. Don’t get the wrong idea here, he’s written charts that feature all the other members of his band as well. This chart has all the wonderful surprises and hard swing that all Clayton charts have. Our bass player, Sean Jacobi is featured here and does a great job. I sent a rough mix of this to John, and he was very impressed with Sean’s performance as well. (Justin Woodward, lead trumpet)

When I’m Sixty-Four — Charley Gray wrote this chart when he was a student here in the late ’80s. It was previously recorded by the One O’Clock Lab Band on Lab ’89. Pete McCann played a great guitar solo on the album, but here, decades later, the guitar distortion doesn’t seem to fit the chart. We played the chart all semester long to feature our guitarist, Matt Hornbeck. He played it so well that we decided to record it. This chart has a great universal and timeless feel. I can hear the Basie, Kenton, Herman, Rich and Ferguson bands all playing this chart and I can hear many of the bands of today also having this in their books. Dan Foster had as much fun playing this lead trumpet part as Craig Johnson did back in ’89.

Worth the Wait — This great chart was a joint effort of two of my old Kenton buddies, Peter Erskine (composer) and Tim Hagans (arranger). Most of Tim’s arrangements show the effect that Thad Jones had on him, and this chart indicates that perhaps Bill Holman is on Tim’s list, too. Both these influences are front and center here. Soloists Phillip Menchaca (trombone), Duran Ritz (drums), Sean Giddings (piano) and Li Xiaochuan (trumpet) all take modern solos that also demonstrate a great sense of the past. These guys can play in my “jazz club” any time they’re available.

Sax Alley — All the members of all the bands I’ve ever had here at UNT know I’m a sucker for the “tenor battle”-style charts: too much energy and too much fun. When I found out Bob Curnow’s Sierra Music had this John Bambridge chart from the old Tonight Show Band available, I ordered it on the spot. Dustin and J.R. know not to try to outdo Pete Christlieb and Ernie Watts here—they just do their own thing. I hope you’ll agree with me that their version is wonderful, too.

Three on a Tree Two — This fun chart was written by UNT ex Charley Gray for his Portland Jazz Orchestra. It’s your basic rock chart in ¾ with all sorts of duple feels thrown in on top—in other words, there is nothing normal about it at all. Jacob Smith’s acoustic bass starts things off and Scott Kruser on guitar and Brett McDonald on soprano sax add the appropriate solos.

Now — Swedish jazz pianist, composer and arranger Lars Jansson visited UNT in the fall of 2010. The purpose of his trip was to be a visiting lecturer for the small group program. He knew about the bands here, so he asked Stefan Karlsson if he could bring a handful of his big band commissions for the final concert. Luckily for us, the One O’Clock was on tour when he was here, so we got to perform his charts. His charts were all modern, swung like crazy and were fun to play — great writing and plenty of room for improvisation. Li Xiaochuan is up first on trumpet, Alex Fraile on alto, Carl Lundgren on trombone, then our great drummer Greg Sadler gets the final say.

My Foolish Heart — This wonderful arrangement by Neil Slater of Victor Young’s classic has been in the North Texas jazz library for a long time. Alex Fraile gives us a masterful performance. You need to know that this was done live, in one take.

Portuguese Soul — I like to tell everyone I know that there is no bigger fan of Thad Jones’s writing and playing than me. Until I talked to Jon Faddis about my students studying his lead playing, I didn’t even know this existed! I liked it so much, I had Brett McDonald, Thomas Davis and Tyler Mire lift it off the Jimmy Smith album of the same name. Sean Giddings tears it up on organ all the way through. Greg Sadler is absolutely remarkable on drums, and the other soloists (J.R. Rocha on tenor sax, Austin Short on trombone, Li Xiachuan on trumpet, Alex Fraile on alto sax and Jacob Wise on guitar) are also exceptional.


Blue Daniel — While the circumstances of his death are tragic, we know that with his friends, on the bandstand and certainly in his playing, Frank Rosolino was always having fun. This composition of Frank’s certainly mirrors those thoughts. Beautifully arranged by trumpeter Ray Brown to feature the entire trombone section, you can hear Frank smiling! Seth Weaver is up first then Carl Lundgren and Adam Jensen. Nathan Hervey and Eric Andress do their thing on bass trombones. Warning: quotes ahead!

Earth — This wonderful Bob Florence composition was a band favorite all semester. There are plenty of opportunities for jazz interpretation in this baby. This is hard work that is fun to do. Addison Frei is heard first on piano, then Chris Reardon on tenor sax and then Addison again. If you don’t like playing charts like this then you’d better go out for symphonic band. For a number of reasons, I almost didn’t release this. Addison’s great solos and Chris Reardon’s tenor sax solo made me do it.

I 8 Da Whole Half Thing — All recent Phil Kelly chart titles leave you wondering ‘what in the world?’ All of you musicians out there know from the title that this chart is based on the diminished scale. What the title doesn’t tell you is that this chart is harder than heck! Meant for his last CD, Phil shipped this puppy to us to record. I was a little unpopular around here ‘til they got it under their fingers. It’s still a challenge. Matt Young starts it off on drums, then Anthony Corsaro joins in on congas, Young Heo on bass, Evan Oxenhandler and Addison Frei are in thereafter. You’ll hear lots of great playing by the band and some great soloing by Ramsey, Evan, Matt and Anthony. Evan Oxenhandler’s guitar solo takes us from San Francisco to Nashville in one bar (I love it!).

Infant Eyes — This Wayne Shorter composition is one of the most beautiful jazz ballads ever written. Rich DeRosa does a lovely new rendition that is as refreshing as it is haunting. Sergio Pamies on piano and Drew Zaremba on soprano saxophone add the perfect solos for this chart.

Sink, Sank, Swunk — Drew Zaremba co-wrote this tune with bassist Brian Ward. This very modern take on rhythm changes gets smoking in no time at all. Drew starts off the soloing, followed by trombonist Seth Weaver, then trumpeter John Hallman. Bassist Jake Greenburg and the rhythm section get some attention sandwiched in a “Thad Jones” shout chorus that Thad never wrote. Drew fashions a totally new and unique shout that channels Thad without copying him.

Vaguely Reminiscent is a wonderful modern jazz creation by Drew Zaremba. Drew takes a relatively simple melodic idea and makes it into an absolutely wonderful jazz experience. Damián Garcia on piano and Daniel Matthews on trumpet provide great solos here that add more than just icing on the cake. Fair warning: you’ll be playing this recording over and over again and you won’t be able to get it out of your head for a long, long time.

Nardis — UNT alum Brett McDonald arranged this Miles Davis composition while he was a student here. It definitely has that North Texas sound and attitude. Unlike some of the other charts on this CD that pay homage to the sound and feel of the original small group recordings, this chart is much meaner (or more Denton-ish, if you will) than the original (written by Miles for a Cannonball Adderley recording). Jonathan Mones on alto sax, Brad Young Chan Kang on guitar, and Lupe Barrera on drums tear this up!

Detour Ahead — This chart by Drew Zaremba is a real gem. He could have written this for Natalie Cole or Diana Krall. Emily Davis’ vocal performance will leave you wanting to hear much, much more of her—she nailed it! Great job by all! We would like to thank Jessica Young on horn and Nick Rothouse on vibraphone for their contributions.

Green Onions — (recorded live) This is actually Drew Zaremba’s very first chart. It was a band and crowd favorite all year long. Considering all of his charts we have recorded, you might ask, “What took you so long to record this one?” Good question. After Drew and John Hallman have a brief conversation at the beginning, soloists include Ally Hany on trumpet, Drew on alto sax, Jake Greenburg on bass and Chris Reardon on tenor sax. Drew and Chris “talk” it over at the end. This is from our performance at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival—just one week before our recording session. Yep, like all live recordings, there are some mistakes here and there—but live jazz recordings (by good groups) are just more exciting, period.



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