November 22, 2014  

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Southern Miss Alum to Lead Noted Jazz Band in Performance on Hattiesburg Campus

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Steve Wiest

The famed University of North Texas One’ O’Clock Jazz Lab Band will perform a special concert on Sunday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium on The University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus. The public is invited and admission is free.

The band is under the direction of Southern Miss alumnus Steve Weist. He performed in the Southern Miss Jazz Lab Band under retired Southern Miss faculty member Raoul Jerome, and has been back to perform as a guest soloist in recent years. Weist brings a wealth of artistry from his years as a top-notch performer and composer and knows the traditions of the program.

Since its inception in 1947, the jazz program at UNT has turned out more jazz performers and jazz educators than probably any other school in the world. The first director of the 1 O'Clock Jazz Lab Band was Gene Hall. He passed the Baton to Leon Breedon, a clarinetist and professional music copyist by training, who took the band to new heights and acclaim and developed the connection with Stan Kenton that resulted in the Kenton library being housed at UNT. Breedon retired in 1980 and passed the chair to Neil Slater, a skilled jazz pianist and arranger. Steve Weist is the fourth in the line and is a superb jazz performer and a Grammy-nominated jazz composer and arranger.

Southern Miss’ connection with North Texas is very strong, with many Southern Miss students continuing  their music studies at UNT and going on to perform in notable bands, including Tom "Bones" Malone (Saturday Night Live, Blues Brothers, Late Night with David Letterman), Tom Brantley (Rhythm and Brass) and Tom Luer (Queen Latifah, Mike Barone Big Band) among others.