Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Night, We All Got Wiested

As is my semesterly tradition, I made the trek up to Denton last night to see the One O'Clock Lab Band's CD release at the Syndicate. They traditionally play there the first week anyway, but it's the first time in recent memory that the new CD, recorded at the end of the spring semester, was ready to go this early. And in celebration of same, director Steve Wiest had the band work up the entire CD in about a week--a somewhat tall order, considering about half the band was new, including the entire rhythm section. But the band, if anything, sounds more "together" at this early stage than it did a year ago.

Let's talk for a moment about the confluence of "nines" that occurred last night: The CD is called (of course) Lab 2009, and it features a huge "9" on the cover. It was released on 09.09.09, which was the ninth day of the fall semester at UNT. The concert started at 9 p.m. (Wiest said that they had pondered waiting until 9:09 to start the show, but they were too eager to get started.) The One O'Clock is tops among the nine lab bands at UNT. There are nine tracks on the CD, and the last one is a Wiest original called "Ice-Nine" (kudos to those who get the Vonnegut reference). Those were the planned ones, and the last one was really odd: Wiest announced that a band member's mother's dinner order on the way up to the gig last night came to a total of $9.99. Heh.

At any rate, this was a most enjoyable evening. The nine tunes on the CD were divided equally between the three sets, which were filled out by a combination of earlier One O'Clock tunes (such as Lab 2006's "Foe Destroyer") and big band classics (Thad Jones' "Three and One" and Willie Maiden's "A Little Minor Booze," made famous by Stan Kenton). As has been the case since Wiest took over the band (and as I said in the spring, it was great to see the word "interim" removed from his title of director), the big difference boils down to two things: The little touches that altered the tunes ever so slightly (as when Wiest walked over to the rhythm section and cut the solo section down to, say, just soloist-and-bass or soloist-and-drums, bringing everyone back in at just the right time), and the fact that Wiest continues to have so much fun up there in front of the band. It's a great start to the fall Syndicate season; here's hoping for a great contribution from the rest of the program in the weeks ahead.

If you missed last night the CD is available by mail-order by visiting this page. (And a special shout-out to my buddy J-Guar for getting an original tune of his recorded on the album!) By the way, if you're in the Dallas area and a trip to Denton isn't usually in the cards for you, the band will be playing its annual concert at UT-Dallas in just a few weeks.

I don't want to jinx this, seemed as if things had calmed down a bit at the Syndicate in comparison to a year ago. You couldn't always hear a pin drop in there, but any conversation that did happen was kept to a minimum, and nobody was going around "shushing" people. It looks like they may have achieved the balance that I was hoping for in last year's posts on the subject.

A trek north again: If memory serves, this was my first trip to Denton since the accident. It was nice to be back up there again, and I was happy to see that the long-lasting Loop 288 construction near 35E was nearly finished, I also enjoyed getting a good look at all the new choices for eating up there; it's a massive improvement over how things were even in my grad-school days. I still miss The Tomato, though...

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