CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
NOTE TO EDITORS: John Rapson, director of Johnson County Landmark, can
be reached at (319) 335-1633, or by e-mail at <email@example.com>.
Johnson County Landmark presents program of vocal jazz and swing
dance Nov. 9
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Johnson County Landmark, the major jazz big-band
at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present "A Night of
Swing: Classic Vocal Settings of Jazz Standards," a free concert and
dance performance at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9 in Clapp Recital Hall on the
Three student vocalists will be featured with the band, which is directed
by John Rapson. Each of the singers -- Rosie Smith, Alison Wood and Elizabeth
Hopp -- will perform three classic vocal jazz standards with the band.
Each set of vocal numbers will be introduced by an instrumental number,
and all three singers will join on the final song of the concert, "Every
day I have the Blues."
Also appearing with the band will be several dance couples, selected
and choreographed by Kameron Spears, a graduate of the UI dance department
who teaches dance in the Cedar Rapids public schools. They will perform
ballroom dances to six of the vocal numbers on the program on a dance floor
set up in Clapp Recital Hall.
Songs on the program will include "Honeysuckle Rose," "The
Song Is You," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Sophisticated
Lady" and "How High the Moon." They will be performed in
arrangements that were originally done for some of the great jazz singers
of all time: Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Ray Charles,
Nat King Cole and Diane Schuur.
Rapson said that the idea for the program came out of two recent events
-- the visit last spring of jazz singer Carmen Bradford to the UI campus
and the recent resurgence of swing dancing among college students.
A Grammy Award winner and for many years a vocalist with the Count Basie
Orchestra, Bradford performed with Johnson County Landmark in April. Her
performance and open rehearsal with the band inspired a number of students
to take up jazz singing.
"We wanted to capitalize on the impact of Carmen Bradford's visit,"
Rapson said. "Singers just started to come out of the woodwork to
work with her, and the audience response was overwhelming.
"This will be the first time that JCL has focussed an entire evening
on big-band settings for solo vocalists, which fits perfectly with our
mission as a repertory jazz ensemble."
A major ensemble in the UI School of Music jazz program, Johnson County
Landmark (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.
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.
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. 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
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."
JCL tours throughout the Midwest. In addition to its free concerts on
the UI campus, JCL makes frequent appearances at clubs in Iowa City. It
is one of 11 ensembles in the jazz program of the UI School of Music. Among
them, these diverse ensembles range from combos to big bands and differs
in stylistic formats from experimental compositions to traditional repertoires.
Rapson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music as director of jazz
studies in 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. The CD scored 10 out of 10 in for artistic merit Grammophone
magazine's "Good CD Guide" for jazz recordings, which also called
it "beautiful and unique."
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. 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 and continued to perform concerts and recording
dates with the leading jazz artists on the east coast.
Rapson holds a master's degree in music theory and composition from
California State University, Northridge and has completed course work for
a doctorate in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at