Clash of the College Jazz Bands

13 Oct

I am a big sports fan, and an even bigger fan of college sports. Moreover, I could gladly sit in front of the TV the last week of December and early January watching bowl game after bowl game, or catch all 63 games of the NCAA basketball tournament in March without feeling the need to do anything else.

As a (former) musician and a (former) athlete, I wish for the same sort of intense, national tournament-style competition among college jazz bands as I do with college sports.

First of all, I know that we would never see a national college jazz band tournament on ESPN. And I also acknowledge that yes, there are college competitions around the country, but I feel that some are regional, and in some cases some bands may not have the funds or time to participate in larger competitions. Therefore we may have not seen the ultimate college band competition among the top college bands in the nation.

I want to see it. But the reality of seeing an event like this live is not all that likely.

So here is what I want to do. I want to collect nominations from you, the readers, for the top college and university bands in the country over the next month or so. After that, I will come up with a way to narrow it down to the “Sweet 16”, and create a bracket with these college bands going head to head. I will pick one song from each band, post the audio, you can listen, and you will vote on which band in each head to head match up you like better. The band receiving the most votes will move on to the next round, until one band is crowned national champion.

So here is what I need from you: College or University jazz big band nominations. In the comment box, just write the name of the college that the band is from. The band gets bonus points if you can include a link to current audio from the band or where I can track down the bands most recent CD.

The only rule is that the band nominated, and the audio suggested, is from the last year or so. So please don’t suggest the University of Nebraska Jazz Band from 1977, or something like that. Below is an example of what I am looking for (and officially the first nomination):

I would like to nominate:

The University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band

Their website is:

Their latest CD is:

Lab 2009

You can hear them play on YouTube here:

You don’t have to submit all of the above information, but it will earn the band bonus points when it comes time to design the tournament. At the very least you have to send me the band name.

I think this will be fun…so let the games begin. All nominations will be considered, and nominate as many schools as you like.

13 Responses to “Clash of the College Jazz Bands”

  1. Kevin Kniestedt October 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    I couldn’t help it – I already have to nominate two other bands in addition to North Texas:

    DePaul University Jazz Ensemble


    Whitworth Jazz Ensemble.

    Now it is your turn to get the nominations going!

  2. Staggo Lee October 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    I think this an interesting post. However, if you’ll allow a digression, have you thought about high school bands? Oh, I’m not talking about a “Hey, they’re pretty good for high schoolers.” No, there are stiff competitions among high schools. Some are nationally known. They are that good. It flabbergasts. There is at least one school here, in Seattle, which could make a top college jazz band sweat. They performed with Diane Shuur. So, I would watch a college competition but not with the devotion I would a high school competition.

  3. Kelly Plumber October 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    I would like to nominate the UNI Jazz Band One, and their new CD, Strange Wonderful.

  4. Jason Lim October 22, 2009 at 1:26 am #

    In my opinion, I think princeton and Univ. of North Florida have pretty good programs. It would be really cool to see this in a tournament form.

  5. Kevin Kniestedt October 22, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    A good start…Lets take a look at the nominees so far:

    1. University of North Texas (One O’Clock Lab Band)
    2. DePaul University Jazz Ensemble
    3. Whitworth University Jazz Enemble I
    4. University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One
    5. Princeton University
    6. University of North Florida

    It would be nice to get about 16 bands nominated, so keep ’em coming! I am going to add another:

    7. BYU Synthesis Big Band

  6. Jason October 29, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    my friend, who went to Michigan State brought my attention to their program. it’s not too shabby.

  7. Rob November 3, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    I second the nomination of the UNT One O’clock. I am strictly an amateur and a “come-back” player, but I’ve had the pleasure of sitting with several UNT Lab band players or alums over the past 15 years. Some of them have gone on tour with Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry and other well known bands. It is an eye-opening, humbling, awesome experience to hear and see how good these kids are.

  8. Andrew Layton November 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    You probably shouldn’t forget about the University of Miami’s big band. Not sure what their latest album is called or the website. As a former member of the one o’clock band, it’s good to see them listed. What about the 2 O’clock band?

  9. Tom November 22, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band 1

  10. Mitchell P. Smith December 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    Another nominee: Willamette University Jazz Collective, directed by James Miley. Tremendous talent on the sax and vibes; strong musicians all around. Listen to recent performance of Fables of Faubus at:

  11. Sohbet March 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Hey Admin! Thanks, Forever web pages..


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