UNI Jazz Studies


UNI Jazz BandUNI 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.

UNI Jazz PantherJazz 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.

The band has recorded eighteen CDs (Strange Wonderful-’09, Thinking Globally, Acting Locally-’08, Renovation-’07, Destination Unknown-’06, Memento-’05, The Unlikely Event-’04, Transformation-’03, West Coasting-'02, Leap of Faith-'01, At Dusk-'00,Just Us-’99, Games-’98, Conversations-’97, Skittish-’96, That Big Band Thing-’95, Field of Play-’94, Come Fly With Us-’93, and Northern Exposure-’92). Both That Big Band Thing and Come Fly With Us received 5-star reviews in Downbeat. Prominent guest artists who have appeared with Jazz Band One include: Maria Schneider, David Sanchez, Kenny Werner, The Cuong Vu Trio, Ben Monder, Clark Terry, Peter Erskine, Mark Helias, Ray Anderson, Rich Perry, Benny Golson, Tim Hagans, Ryan Kisor, Bob Berg, Jimmy Heath, Dick Oatts, Terell Stafford, Bobby Shew, Matt Wilson, Donald Harrison, Steve Turre, Jerry Bergonzi, Jane Ira Bloom, Carl Fontana, James Williams, Conrad Herwig, Jiggs Whigham, David Liebman, Sunny Wilkinson, and Hal Galper, among many others
Jazz Band One is directed by Chris Merz.

Jazz Band One Awards and Accolades

  • 2006 Herb Wong lists The Unlikely Event among his “Blue Chip” recordings in the Campus Jazz category. This marks UNI’s seventh appearance on this list.

  • January 2002, UNI Jazz Band One performance at the 29th annual conference of the International Association of Jazz Education, Long Beach, CA.

  • March 2000, the Jazz Educator's Journal's Herb Wong lists "Just Us" among his "Blue Chip" recordings in the Campus Jazz category. Jazz Band One CDs have made his list for the past six consecutive years.

  • January 2000, Down Beat Magazine featured an article entitled, "The Best Jazz CDs of the 90's." All CDs that received 5- and 4 1/2-star reviews in the 1990's were listed. UNI Jazz Band One was the only university big band to receive two 5-star reviews.

  • May 1999, UNI Jazz Band One received an Outstanding Performance Award in Down Beat Magazine's Student Music Awards.

  • May 1995, UNI Jazz Band One received an Outstanding Performance Award in Down Beat Magazine's Student Music Awards.

  • May 1993, UNI Jazz Band One received an Outstanding Performance Award in Down Beat Magazine's Student Music Awards.
    Jazz band playing

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.