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Release: Immediate

Johnson County Landmark features guests on jazz concert March 17

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Cool bop, hard bop, third stream and Brazilian jazz will all be part of the program when Johnson County Landmark, the top jazz band at the University of Iowa School of Music, presents its spring concert at 8 p.m. Monday, March 17, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Johnson County Landmark (JCL) is directed by John Rapson, head of the UI jazz studies program. Maurita Murphy Mead, a classically-trained clarinetist who recently presented a full-length jazz program, and Brazilian jazz pianist Rafael Dos Santos, who performed with her on that program, will be the guest soloists for the free concert.

Mead will perform two pieces that were played by Benny Goodman, Mel Powell's "Mission to Moscow" and a version of "I'll Remember April" that combines jazz and classical styles. The latter, representing a style that is somewhere between the separate streams of jazz and classical music, is sometimes known as "third stream."

Dos Santos, who has been at the UI for several years studying in the jazz program and performing in the Iowa City area, will play two of his own pieces as well as a Brazilian "freno," a type of piece that is based on an athletic dance traditionally performed with a parasol at Carnival time. One of his own compositions, "Se So," is a ballad for solo piano that Dos Santos wrote as a farewell to Iowa City.

Other works played by JCL will include: Gerry Mulligan's cool-bop tune "Bweebida," originally written for Mulligan on baritone saxophone and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer; Gil Evans' "La Nevada Blues," from his "Out of the Cool" album; John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," a hard-bop tune that inspired one description of Coltrane's playing style as "sheets of sound"; and Oliver Nelson's hard bop/blues arrangement of "Down by the Riverside."

There will also be pieces on the program from the classical big-band jazz repertoire, including Fletcher Henderson's arrangement of Coleman Hawkins' "Queer Notions" and "Happy-Go-Lucky Local" from Duke Ellington's "Down South Suite." One of many Ellington pieces about trains, "Happy-Go-Lucky Local" includes a theme that was later popularized as "Night Train."

A major ensemble in the UI School of Music jazz program, JCL is a repertory ensemble devoted to the performance of original compositions by jazz masters. JCL has the standard big-band instrumentation, with full sections of reed, brass and rhythm instruments. It is made up largely of students in the UI School of Music majoring in performance or in the jazz area.

The ensemble has been performing at the UI since the 1960s. The group has traveled to jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, picking up awards on both sides of the Atlantic, and individual members of JCL continue to win major awards and contests. In 1994, members of the group took top awards in the International Trumpet Guild's Jazz Competition and the Jazz Composition Competition sponsored by California State University at San Diego.

JCL tours throughout the Midwest. In addition to its free concerts on the UI campus, JCL makes frequent appearances at clubs in Iowa City. The group's most recent recording, "A Mingus Among Us," was described as "over 70 minutes of sweet, sophisticated jazz classics" in ICON magazine, and River Cities Reader commented that "JCL, the top big band for the University of Iowa School of Music, captures the power of Mingus' music wonderfully."

Rapson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music as director of jazz studies in August 1993. A recording artist for the Sound Aspects and Nine Winds labels, he is a composer and trombonist whose work mixes ethnic and experimental elements with more conventional jazz forms. His recent experimental jazz recording "Dances and Orations" has been hailed as "a conceptual and musical triumph" by Josef Woodard in the Independent.

Rapson has taught and played professionally on both Coasts. His professional career began in Los Angeles, where he formed an octet and performed with some of the leading jazz artists, including Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Tim Berne and Bill Frisell. After moving East, he played recording sessions with Anthony Braxton, Doc Cheatham, David Murray and Julius Hemphill.

Mead is in her 14th year teaching clarinet on the faculty of the UI School of Music, where she is also associate director for undergraduate studies. She has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony. As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other ensembles. Her recent "On The Fence" and "Over the Fence" performances reflect her growing interest in jazz performance styles.

As recipient of the UI Collegiate Teaching Award, Mead was the invited speaker at the UI College of Liberal Arts commencement in 1990. Her students have won first prize in competitions sponsored by the International Clarinet Association and ClarFest.

Dos Santos is a professor of piano at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil and a doctoral student in the UI School of Music. Since coming to Iowa City in 1992 he has also been teaching improvisation in the UI jazz program. He has played with some of the leading jazz musicians in Brazil, including Paulo Moura and Novaldo Ornelas.

In Iowa City he has played with the OftEnsemble and his own group, the Bons Amigos Trio. He also played for two years in the UI Jazztet, which he took to Recife, Brazil, for a two-week workshop in May 1996.