The NIU Jazz Lab Band, under the direction of Rodrigo Villanueva, is the Laboratory Jazz Big Band at NIU. This group performs advanced and intermediate material covering a wide variety of jazz styles, including new works composed and/or arranged by NIU faculty and students.
The group has performed with several international artists, including Allen Vizzutti, Fareed Haque, Kelly Sill, Stefan Karlsson, Liam Teague, Art Davis, Tom Garling, Gary Smulyan, Mark Colby and Wayne Bergeron.
The Jazz Lab Band regularly participates in jazz festivals and competitions, and performs at least six concerts per academic year. In 2010 the Lab Band was featured at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference. The group won first place in the College Jazz Big Band division at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Jazz Festival in 2010 and 2008. It has received outstanding recognition at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival many times. The band also got Outstanding Performance recognition at the 35th DOWNBEAT Annual Student Music Awards (June 2012).