Last night was the annual "Lab Band Madness" concert featuring all nine UNT lab bands. Though it was even a bit longer than it had been in recent years, it was quite an enjoyable evening and actually seemed to go by rather quickly.
If you're new to this site since a year ago, the concert is set up as follows: The Two O'Clock Lab Band closes the first half, the Three O'Clock opens the second half, and the One O'Clock closes out the entire thing (duhh). The rest of the bands go alphabetically by last name of director, so that people coming in from outside the program won't automatically know which band they're listening to (as Leon Breeden, who brought the program to prominence in the 60's and 70's, used to say, once the auditions were over, the numbers disappeared; in other words, all the bands did well so there was no sense in having outsiders create some preconceived notion of, say, what the Six O'Clock ought to sound like). (A further review of last year's concert is posted here.)
I won't actually give a band-by-band review of the concert this year, as my friend and former lab band director John Murphy (now a member of the UNT jazz faculty) liveblogged the entire concert last night, so his on-the-spot notes do the concert better justice than my day-after recollections would do. I will say that I was very impressed with all the bands this year; there wasn't a weak link in the bunch. The soloing was also at a very high level throughout the night, and that's really something that my alma mater is famous for having happen. Many colleges can put out a well-rehearsed ensemble, but UNT, with its multi-layered improvisation program (which includes five prerequisite classes before you can even set foot in Improv I [Halfling, correct me if I'm wrong on that]), produces a level of improvisation that is rarely found at the college level. They have added a whole bunch of classes since I went there, and it sure seems like they're paying off.
The concert almost hit the four-hour level (it started at seven, and Murphy timed its ending at 10:52), but again, it never seemed like it was long; only a severe lack of dinner made us high-tail it to the Tomato quickly afterwards. Since I have Tuesday nights off this semester, it was also nice to see the whole thing for the first time in a few years. It may well be "madness" to schedule this many big bands in one night, but it's a good kind of madness.
Gassed, part deux: Check out the comments to Monday's post; I was right about gas prices in Australia being way, way worse than they are here. (UPDATE: James has cross-posted on the subject over at his site.)
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You want to get up and stretch or something?"--Neil Slater, One O'Clock Lab Band director, as his band hit the stage a little before 10:30 p.m.