Neil Slater conducts the One O’Clock Lab Band.
For local jazz fans, the biggest event of the year just might be going down this weekend in Denton.
The University of North Texas will host a reunion concert on Saturday in honor of the retiring directors of the school’s One O’Clock and Two O’Clock Lab bands, Neil Slater and James Riggs. To honor these two titans of the North Texas jazz scene, a slew of alumni will be coming to town to perform, including: trombonists Tom “Bones Malone (of the CBS Orchestra and formerly of the Saturday Night Live band) and Scott Whitfield, saxophonists Dan Higgins and Dave Pietro, trumpeter Frank Greene, composers Mark Taylor and Alan Blaylock, guitarist Kevin Brunkhorst and bassist Matt Wigton, among many others.
Slater, a Grammy nominee and pianist and Riggs, a sax player who has shared the stage with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald, are in large part responsible for the lofty status the UNT jazz program enjoys nationally.
“Neil Slater and James Riggs have brought our jazz studies program to a peak of excellence that we will strive to build on for the future,” said John Murphy, interim chair of the UNT Division of Jazz Studies in a statement. “Their leadership has set a standard of artistry that is a model not only for us but for jazz educators nationally.”
All of this is to say that Saturday is shaping up as one heck of a concert. The show starts at 6 p.m. and tickets run from $5-$60.
James Riggs directs the Two O’Clock Lab Band.