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Release: Immediate

Sesquicentennial and Black History Month concert features jazz pianist

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jazz pianist James Williams will perform with the University of Iowa's gospel choir Voices of Soul Thursday, Feb. 20, in a free concert held in observance of the UI's Sesquicentennial Celebration and Black History Month.

The concert, scheduled at 8 p.m. in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union, is open to the public. Tickets are needed for admission and are available at the IMU Box Office, which is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., and Sunday, 6 - 9 p.m.

No stranger to the music scene, Williams and his band, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), draw from blues and spirituals to "re-synthesize" jazz with a gospel and R and B feel. Williams has played with such legends as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, which also enlisted the talents of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Milt Jackson, Tal Farlow, Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Slide Hampton, and Dizzy Gillespie.

In 1978 Williams began a solo career with his band ICU, currently showcasing the talents of saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist John Lockwood, drummer Yoron Israel, and vocalists Roger Holland and Marion Cowings. The members of ICU have recorded with musicians such as Max Roach, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Burrell, and the Boy's Choir of Harlem.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Williams received a music education degree from Memphis State University. At 22, he became a music instructor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he formed the Contemporary Piano Ensemble.

Voices of Soul is a UI student organization dedicated to keeping the heritage of music rooted in African and African-American traditions alive and well in the Iowa City community. Much more than just a gospel choir, the group has more than 40 members and stages a number of local performances each year.

The concert is sponsored by the Office of Campus Programs and Student Activities and the Student Commission on Programming and Entertainment (SCOPE). Persons with disabilities who are in need of accommodations in order to participate should contact the Office of Campus Programs at (319) 335-3059.