Earlier this year, Steve Wiest was appointed director of the University of North Texas’ celebrated, world-traveling jazz group, the One O’Clock Lab Band. Wiest had been serving as interim director since the retirement of Neil Slater last year after 27 years at the helm.
Wiest is a jazz trombonist, a veteran of both the Doc Severinsen and Maynard Ferguson bands. He’s recorded his own albums and was nominated for a Grammy as a jazz arranger (for “Besame Mucho” with Maynard Ferguson). He has performed with such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Slide Hampton and Freddie Hubbard.
Art & Seek spoke to Wiest just as the One O’Clock Lab Band is about to head to Thailand to perform as the featured big band at the World Saxophone Congress to be held July 7-12 in Bangkok. We talked about the declining audience for jazz (is it entirely overseas now?), the future of jazz (can it be traded as a commodity?) and the place of the trombone in jazz (preferably in the back, near the drinks and chips).