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UNI School of Music's Jazz Band One receives critical praise for new CD

March 28, 2012

Chris Merz, director of jazz studies, UNI School of Music, 319-273-3077,

Caroline Boehmer, communications and operations coordinator, UNI School of Music, 319-273-2028,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Band One recently released their 19th album to rave reviews. Jack Bowers, writer for "All About Jazz" magazine stated, "the superb musicians keep on coming" -- referring to the last nine albums under Chris Merz, director of jazz studies at UNI.  The album "Let Go" features nine original compositions including pieces written by Peter Roberts, a graduate student in the School of Music, UNI alumni Michael Conrad, '11, and Merz.

"'Let Go' is clearly another triumph for UNI's impressive Jazz Band One, much of the credit for which must go to Merz, who has kept the jazz studies program on an upward course since he replaced its founder, Bob Washut, nearly a decade ago," Bowers said in his review. "If the past is a reliable measuring stick, another exemplary album by the UNI Jazz Band One should be available in another year or so."

The recording was made both live and in the studio on the UNI campus, with four tracks being captured live in Bengtson Auditorium in Russell Hall.

"It means a great deal to me that the director, Chris Merz, members of the band, and the three string musicians spent the time learning and performing my work," said Roberts. "I think that is the most special thing about it.  Being at the concert and getting recognized and having the work on the album is fulfilling, but there is an element those outside the band and especially those outside of music don't see. During the months-long process, the piece is transformed from just notes, rhythms, and markings to something more."

Jazz Band One's next concert is at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 6, in Bengtson Auditorium. Performance pieces will include a new composition by Merz and music composed by current students, as well as other jazz selections. For more information on UNI's School of Music ensemble recordings or other events and activities, contact Caroline Boehmer at 319-273-2028 or