The One O’Clock Lab Band, a Grammy-nominated jazz ensemble from the University of North Texas, performed at UTD on Sept. 23. The Mercury had a chance to sit down with Alan Baylock, the recently appointed director and an alumnus of the band, to talk about his experience so far and the group’s upcoming projects.
What inspired you to follow a career in the jazz music industry?
Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a musician. I’m the youngest of six kids and all my older sisters and brothers all played music. Jazz (music) kind of hit when I was in grade school. My brother brought home a Miles Davis record and once I heard that it changed my life. I really loved the sound of Miles Davis’ trumpet and the freedom that the music seemed to have. At that point, I really wanted to learn more about jazz.
You’ve been the director since the beginning of the fall. What’s the experience of directing been like so far?
It’s been really thrilling. One of the things I love about it is how quickly we had to perform. We had about five hours of rehearsal before we had to play for three hours. … I love that challenge and I think members of the band also love that challenge — the excitement of having to perform at a high level so quickly into a semester. It’s been really intense, but in a positive and productive way.
What do you find are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your job?
I think the rewarding part is just the look on the musicians’ faces of joy as they’re playing the music and the laughter that we often have in rehearsal, even though it’s often intense and focused. The biggest joy is just hearing these young musicians develop right before our eyes and ears. Within the first four weeks of school, they’ve progressed as a band a tremendous amount. It’s really rewarding to see the progress they’ve made.
I think the challenging aspect of it is the other side of that same coin, where we are expected to perform at such a high level so quickly. It’s a real challenge, but it’s equally as rewarding.
Why did you choose to perform at UTD?
It’s a tradition. Our dean said this was the 19th year in a row that the One O’Clock has played as part of (UTD’s) art series. I think it’s a wonderful relationship that we have with UTD. I met a few music students after the concert. Of the students I talked to afterwards, there does seem to be a mutual interest in both schools. I think UTD has a strong music program. I think it’s important for us to collaborate. It could be musical concerts like we just did, or vice versa where someone gets their undergraduate (degree) from UTD and goes up to North Texas for graduate school. I think it’s ripe for opportunities for us to collaborate.
What was it like to perform at UTD?
For all of us in the band, it was a thrilling performance. The audience seemed to give us an energy and we could interact with the audience. They definitely were into it and seemed to enjoy it. They seemed educated too – it wasn’t their first jazz concert. Playing for folks who know a little bit about jazz is more fun for us. The place wasn’t packed but for those who were there, they seemed to really enjoy it. The combination of a good crowd and new facility was memorable for us.
What’s your vision for the group going forward?
We want to … continue the international touring and annual recording. We really want to reach the newer generation in the way that new generation listens to music and buys music. Beyond social media and streaming events, it’s (about) getting into everybody’s radar no matter how they consume their music. We want to be accessible at all times because the music that we’re performing is really creative and really exciting.