This is probably my favorite piece we did while I was in the One O’Clock Lab Band. Pat Williams did the composition and is one of my favorite writers. Mike Davis is on the trumpet solo, and Pete Brewer is on flute and tenor sax solos. Marc Johnson is on bass and may be the best bassist ever in the One.
This was recorded at the North Side Coliseum in Ft. Worth in early December of 1975, on a Friday night. There were other groups on the concert, but I don’t remember who they were. The recording isn’t great because the sound man had us peaking out on the recording meters. He didn’t know we could play with so much power! I tried to adjust the levels a little bit myself here at home, but it’s still distorted at times.
The night was very special for me, although I was not impressed with where we had to play. My parents and Susan were there to hear me play on my only trip with the band back to my hometown. My dad used to take me to hear the One O’Clock play in Fort Worth when I was in junior high school. I remember meeting Leon Breeden after one of the concerts, and he told me that the sky was the limit when he heard I was a trumpet player. To be back in Fort Worth playing in that band with Leon Breeden conducting was a great feeling for me. I had come a long way from that junior high kid talking to Leon Breeden, and the odds of a kid from Ft. Worth making the nation’s best college jazz band were remote. Only about 5 of the members of the band were from Texas.
There is another reason I like this recording. Most of the lab band albums that have been issued annually since 1967 have been studio recordings. Most people never hear live recordings of the band, and live recordings are always more exciting. You can hear an energy in this band that you don’t hear in the studio. There is no substitute for playing in front of a live audience. The great players raise their game when the lights go on, and this band was full of great players.
Chuck Schmidt’s lead trumpet playing is amazing. This piece has the hardest lead trumpet lines I have ever heard. Most professionals could not play this piece as well, and Chuck was just a student. We all knew he would do well after he left school, and he played lead trumpet with Buddy Rich for over a year in 1977-78. Also, his power was incredible, and this live recording picks up on that.
By the way, we only played this piece a few times before that night. It came together more each time we played it, however. It could have been a train wreck for any other college band. You have to remind yourself that you are listening to school kids play this music. I’m glad the tape survived for almost 40 years.