One of the premiere college jazz bands in the country has a new leader at the helm. The University of North Texas has named Steve Wiest director of the school’s One O’Clock Lab Band. The school filled two other vacancies today: Tim Brent has been named director of vocal jazz and John Murphy has been named chair of the jazz studies division.
Weist has served as interim director since Neil Slate’s retirement in August of last year. Weist is an accomplished trombone player who has also arranged music for Maynard Ferguson’s band.
Keep reading for the full press release from UNT:
The University of North Texas College of Music has filled three top positions in its famed Division of Jazz Studies. Steve Wiest has been named director of the One O’Clock Lab Band, Tim Brent has been named director of vocal jazz and John Murphy has been appointed chair of the jazz studies division.
“I am delighted with the leadership appointments in our jazz studies division and am confident that our jazz program, which has been a leading edge for the university for decades, will continue to define excellence in the study of this uniquely American art form worldwide,” said Dr. James C. Scott, dean of the UNT College of Music.
Wiest, a Grammy-nominated musician and a UNT faculty member since 2007, has served as interim director of the world-renowned One O’Clock Lab Band since Neil Slater retired in August 2008 after 27 years at the helm. A former trombonist and arranger for the legendary Maynard Ferguson’s band, Wiest will lead the university’s top jazz band – a 19-piece ensemble – in a celebrated jazz program that is consistently rated among the nation’s best. The Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band has performed and toured throughout the world, including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand and The Netherlands.
Brent, a nine-time Down Beat magazine award winner who joins UNT from Florida, will begin his duties as director of vocal jazz in August. He replaces Paris Rutherford, who is retiring at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. In his position, Brent will coordinate vocal jazz activities and lead the Jazz Singers, the university’s premiere vocal jazz group, which has been named “Best College Jazz Choir” numerous times by Down Beat magazine. The ensemble has performed at state and national conferences and jazz festivals and has toured Asia. Former members of the Jazz Singers include Norah Jones and past “American Idol” contestant Brandon Rogers.
Murphy, who has been a member of the UNT jazz studies faculty since 2001, now will serve as chair of the Division of Jazz Studies after serving as interim chair since Slater’s retirement in August. In the past, the director of the One O’Clock Lab Band also served as chair of the division, but as administrative responsibilities have increased along with overall growth at the university, the two duties have been divided.
“John Murphy and Steve Wiest have done splendid work in their interim posts this past year, and the faculty gained the confidence that we had the ideal leadership team already among us,” Scott said. “It was through a rigorous and wide open national search process, including individuals of impressive professional prestige, that we chose Steve Wiest to continue to lead the band and to bring Tim Brent to lead our vocal jazz area.”
About Steve Wiest
Wiest, associate professor of music, joined the UNT faculty in Fall 2007. In addition to leading the One O’Clock Lab Band, he has taught jazz composition, jazz arranging and jazz trombone and has directed the UNT jazz trombone band “The U-Tubes.” He has performed extensively in Australia, Europe, Japan, South America and the United States and recently released a new CD, Out of the New, featuring Wiest on trombone along with other UNT jazz studies faculty members Fred Hamilton, Stefan Karlsson, Lynn Seaton and Ed Soph.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead this great band,” Wiest said of his appointment as director of the One O’Clock Lab Band. “The tradition of excellence compiled by these talented students is second to none in the world, and it is a joy to be associated with them. I look forward to many exciting years carrying on the legacy of former directors Neil Slater, Leon Breeden and Gene Hall.”
In December 2007, Wiest earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Instrumental Arrangement category for his arrangement of “Besame Mucho” from the CD The One and Only Maynard Ferguson.
After serving as the featured trombonist and an arranger for Ferguson’s band from 1981 to 1986, Wiest earned a master of music degree in 1988 at UNT, where he was a featured trombonist and an arranger for the One O’Clock Lab Band.
Wiest then served as assistant director of jazz studies at The University of Texas at Arlington from 1988 to 1990 and director of jazz studies and trombone at The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater from 1990 to 2006. While at The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, he was a regular member of the Doc Severinsen Big Band.
In addition to a master’s degree from UNT, Wiest holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.
About Tim Brent
Brent, who will be the new director of vocal jazz at UNT, has directed vocal jazz programs at Northern Illinois University and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His arrangements are published by University of Northern Colorado Jazz Press. He is currently teaching at the University of Miami and Miami-Dade College.
“Being the director of vocal jazz studies and working with the best and brightest jazz students in the country is truly the realization of a lifelong dream,” Brent said. “I feel so fortunate and inspired to be surrounded by such amazing faculty and a tradition of music excellence of the very highest level. I can’t wait to carry the torch that Paris Rutherford has lit.”
Brent holds a doctor of musical arts degree in jazz performance and a master of music degree in jazz pedagogy from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Western Michigan University, where he was a member of Gold Company as a vocalist and pianist.
About John Murphy
Murphy, an ethnomusicologist and saxophonist, served as chair of the UNT Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology from 2006 to 2008 before being named interim chair and later chair of jazz studies. A professor of music at UNT, Murphy has taught jazz history, jazz styles and analysis, jazz research methods and ethnomusicology and has directed the Jazz Repertory Ensemble. Previously, he taught at Western Illinois University.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the students and faculty of the jazz program in this role,” Murphy said. “To be surrounded on a daily basis by gifted colleagues and students who are constantly seeking new creative challenges is in many ways a dream job.”
Murphy has held Fulbright and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships for research in Brazil in 1990-1991 and 2000-2001. He is the author of Music in Brazil and Cavalo-marinho pernambucano and has published articles on jazz improvisation and pedagogy, Brazilian traditional and popular music, and Cuban music in New York. He served as web editor for the Society for Ethnomusicology from 1997 to 2002 and maintains the UNT jazz studies website at www.jazz.unt.edu. He performs often on tenor saxophone.
Murphy earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies performance and a master’s degree in music theory from UNT, where he played in the One O’Clock Lab Band in 1984-85. He also holds master’s and doctoral degrees in ethnomusicology from Columbia University.