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Release: Immediate

JCL will present the music of jazz arranger Gil Evans Nov. 10

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Johnson County Landmark, the major jazz big band at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present "An Evening of Gil Evans," a tribute to one of the most important jazz arrangers of the post-World War II era, at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of John Rapson, will consist entirely of arrangements Evans made for major jazz artists including Miles Davis and Claude Thornhill.

The performance will be free and open to the public.

Toronto-born pianist/arranger/composer Evans was a controversial yet ultimately respected figure in the jazz world. His work with Miles Davis, during which Evans was partly responsible for re-writing the rules on jazz arrangement, led to landmark recordings from Davis' "Birth of the Cool" period in the late '40s to "Miles Ahead," "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain" in the late '50's.

In a 1986 appreciation of Evans, Tom Campbell wrote, "Jazz arrangers are rarely stars unless they are also composers and high-profile instrumentalists. Gil Evans, although a keyboard player, composer, and band leader, has earned a permanent place in jazz because of his skills as an arranger. The most remarkable thing about Gil Evans remains his talent -- its breadth, consistency, and longevity."

The Nov. 10 concert will feature arrangements from several of Evans' important recordings with Davis, including "Out of the Cool," "Miles Ahead," "Sketches of Spain" and "Porgy and Bess." Also on the program are Evans' arrangements of "Apple Tree," made for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, and Bix Beiderbeck's "Davenport Blues," made for the "Great Jazz Standards" album.

JCL is a repertory ensemble devoted to the performance of original compositions by jazz masters. The group 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.

JCL's current repertory includes the music of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Tadd Dameron, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson and Benny Golson, along with new works by students in the jazz studies area at the UI.

A performing ensemble at the UI since the 1960s, JCL has traveled to jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, picking up awards on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1981 JCL won the Silver Tulip award at the International Tulip Time Music Festival in the Netherlands, and it was one of the few student bands ever invited to appear at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. More recently, the group was selected the best band in its class at the 25th annual Wichita Jazz Festival in 1991.

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.

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 "one of the most vital CDs to come around in a long time" in Jazziz and as "a conceptual and musical triumph" by Josef Woodard in the Independent.

His professional career began in Los Angeles, where he formed an octet and performed with some of the leading jazz artists for both recording dates and live performances. He worked with some of the leading jazz artists on the West Coast, including Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Tim Berne and Bill Frisell.

While he continued to record and perform on the jazz circuit, Rapson also taught music theory and composition at Westmont College in Santa Barbara for 10 years. He later taught jazz at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He performed extensively on the East Coast, including recording sessions with Anthony Braxton, Doc Cheatham, David Murray and Julius Hemphill.