What it takes to win a spot on the main stage at the most prestigious jazz festival in the U.S. and how one big band at UCO did it.

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EDMOND, OKLAHOMA -- The best shows, the best musicians, the ones who rocked the house, who sold out UCO's Jazz Lab; you can find them on the walls and embedded with stars on the sidewalk outside.

And these musicians, they're pretty good too.

This is the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Ensemble Number 1.

There are 3 other groups like this on campus but Director Brian Gorrell says this on is the hardest to crack.

"They really are good," says Gorell. "We've known that we've had some really good students for a long time."

Gorell was in this group himself nearly 30 years ago.

He was on the faculty in 2002 when the Jazz Lab opened its doors as a unique music venue.

But one thing no other local band like this has ever done is grab a spot in one of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world.

Listen close.

Out of 120 college groups that tired, this band is one of two than will headline at this year's Monterey Jazz Festival after summer break.

Gorell says, "We weren't really even thinking about the competitive part. We just wanted to go, play our best, and hear a lot of great musicians."

Growing up in Taiwan, Rei Wang never thought she'd get a chance to play Monterey so soon.

"I didn't expect that I would be there," she says.

Neither did trombonist Evan Drumm, who grew up in Edmond, but who also lives for those moments when this band really clicks.

"It's cool to be inside too, you know." he says. "Sitting in the section."

A spot on the main stage at Monterey will mean some extra rehearsals over the summer, but when you love the music, and you're trying for a spot on these walls yourself, the work plays out like a beautiful melody.

The 2018 Monterey Jazz Festival takes place September 21-23.

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