Studying jazz at UNI offers many opportunities to perform. In addition to Jazz Band One, Jazz Band Two and Jazz Band Three, our premiere ensembles, students are welcomed and encouraged to create and perform with jazz combos, coached by our esteemed faculty artists. Each semester, all three bands perform, and combos perform both on and off-campus. Find out more about Jazz Band One and Jazz Band Two below.
Jazz Band One
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, UNI Jazz Band One, the School of Music’s top jazz performing group, is one of the premier collegiate jazz ensembles in the Midwest. Jazz Band One has appeared at festivals all over the country and in Europe. The band performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1998, 1989, and 1995 and at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1998 and 1989. Jazz Band One has received outstanding band recognition at the Notre Dame (Indiana), Wichita (Kansas), Kansas City (Missouri), Eau Claire (Wisconsin), and Elmhurst (Illinois) Jazz Festivals. It has twice been a featured band (by invitation) at both the Greeley (Colorado) and KU (Kansas) Jazz Festivals and has performed at IAJE Conferences in Long Beach, California (2002) and Chicago, Illinois (2006, 1981), and has been invited to perform at the inaugural conference of the Jazz Education Network (JEN) in St. Louis in May of 2010. The band has also been the recipient of three Outstanding Performance Awards (1999, 1995 and 1993) in the collegiate big band category of Downbeat magazine’s Annual Student Music Awards.
Jazz Band One has been a pioneer in innovative programming and instrumentation. Maintaining a balance of classic Basie and Ellington works and contemporary original compositions, the ensemble’s repertoire consistently displays depth and diversity of style. The repertoire also showcases the versatility and high level of musicianship of the players in the band. Several original compositions and arrangements have been commissioned by the band from composers such as Manny Albam, Jane Ira Bloom, Ed Sarath, Paul McKee, Chris Schmitz and Rob Hudson. Jazz Band One is directed by Chris Merz.
Jazz Band Two
Jazz Band Two is directed by Dr. Michael Conrad. The group performs a wide repertoire, including compositions especially commissioned for the band. Past guest soloists and composer/conductors have included Bobby Shew, Paul McKee, J.C. Sanford, Don Jaques, Paul Tenney, Genadi Zagor, Doug Huey, Chris Merz and Steve Grismore.