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Release: Immediate

NOTE TO EDITORS: John Rapson, director of Johnson County Landmark, can be reached at (319) 335-1633, or by e-mail at <>.

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 UI campus.

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 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."

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.

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