An annual jazz tradition marches on this fall


As band members warmed up and people began claiming their spots on the lawn in front of the Garden Theatre, the scene was reminiscent of Georges Seurat’s famous 1886 painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Both the painting and the annual fall Jazz in the Garden concert on September 20 depicted a scene of community members leisurely enjoying a scene in a park.  

The production included genres ranging from traditional and contemporary jazz to classic swing literature, including works from Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Byers and Count Baise. The performers also drew influence from the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.

This year, “Lab 1,” one of UNC’s five large bands, performed an original work by one of the students called “Rebellion Against the One.” Beautifully complex, the piece perfectly illustrates the literary trope of moral struggles, which was also the inspiration for the piece. The Lab 1 band consists of a mix of masters and PhD students as well as a few undergraduate students with Dana Landry, a professor of jazz studies, as their director.

UNC bands “Lab 2” and “Lab 3” also performed, “Lab 2” mostly consisting of undergraduate students with a few masters and PhD students, and “Lab 3” only having undergraduate students. Jim White, a professor of jazz studies, and Joel Harris, an artist faculty in residence, directed the two bands respectively.

This soiree, originally designed for jazz majors, is a tradition that has been so long established, “Lab 1” members struggle to remember the event’s origins. Nonetheless, the performers keep the tradition going every year. One of these performers includes Chris Navarett, a first-year doctoral student in jazz studies and “Lab 1” trumpeter.


“The headline should be ‘Did the chicken come before the egg?'” Navarett said. “We are doing it for the school. Getting our music out there and showing what we can offer to the campus.”


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