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Release: Immediate

Oddbar jazz quintet will play free concert in UI Clapp Recital Hall Feb. 7

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Oddbar, a jazz quintet that includes faculty, students and alumni of the University of Iowa School of Music, will present a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Unusual among jazz groups for not having a traditional bass instrument, Oddbar consists of John Rapson, trombone; Brent Sandy, trumpet and flugelhorn; Robert Paredes, clarinet and saxophone; Steve Grismore, guitar; and Jim Dreier, drums and percussion. Rapson is a member of the faculty and director of jazz studies at the School of Music, Grismore is a graduate and a former faculty member, Dreier is a current graduate student and Paredes is a former student. The only member without a UI connection, Sandy teaches and performs locally.

In addition to its unique instrumentation, Oddbar is unusual in other ways. It is extremely eclectic, performing a wide variety of musical styles, while its name reflects the fact that it takes unexpected sounds into local clubs and bars.

Their promotional material boasts, "Oddbar prides itself on developing an original repertoire that forges elements from various traditions with elements from our home turf of jazz. It is not an easy music to categorize, but one with a certain earthiness and unpredictability that makes it fun to play."

"Whenever we do a well known standard, we take it on as a project to 'odd-ify,' kind of like a beauty 'make-over'."

The Feb. 7 performance will feature pieces by members of the group, including Sandy's "Miles to Go (to Get to Jimi)," Grismore's "Africa" and Rapson's "Tulip Jive Dance" and "The Book of Ruth." Also on the program will be Oddbar's odd-ified versions of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm," Ellington's "Echoes of Harlem" and Herbie Nichols' "Blue Chopsticks." The program will end with Grismore's "Halleluia, Amen."

The group has a history that is as unusual as their instrumentation and programming. They began in 1996 as a trio with Grismore, Sandy and Dreier. They thought of themselves as a creative chamber ensemble that could play a variety of contemporary styles, from straight ahead to free jazz. They played original music from all members of the trio, as well as their own unique arrangements of traditional jazz standards.

Thinking it would be fun to add another sound to the group, in 1997 they brought Rapson in to make the Oddbar Trio + Trombone. In this alignment they recorded their first CD on the Nine Winds label, "Lost Art Cafe," and played for the 1997 Iowa City Jazz Festival. Their festival performance was recorded by NPR for "Jazz Set," a nationally syndicated program hosted by Branford Marsalis and heard on more than 200 stations nationwide.

With the recent addition of Paredes as a fifth player, the group has given up "trio" as part of their name, and are now known simply as Oddbar. They continue to perform locally and regionally at clubs and jazz festivals. All members of Oddbar are music educators who have presented clinics throughout the Midwest for high school and college students.

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. The CD scored 10 out of 10 in for artistic merit in Gramophone magazine's "Good CD Guide" for jazz recordings, which also called it "beautiful and unique."

Previous albums under Rapson's direction are "Bing" for Sound Aspects, and "Buwah" and "Deeba dah bwee" for Nine Winds. He has also recorded "A Mingus Among Us" and "Been There, Done That" with the UI Johnson County Landmark jazz big band.

Currently a jazz instructor at Augustana College, Grismore was director of jazz studies at the UI 1990-93. He has also taught at Coe College, Cornell College, Central College and Iowa Wesleyan. He is a co-founder of the Iowa City Jazz Festival and was musical director of the festival for the past seven years.

Grismore has performed at clubs and jazz festivals around the country, including the West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival, the Madison Jazz Festival, the Peoria Jazz Festival and the Tall Corn Jazz Festival. He has played with many well-known jazz artists, including Paul Smoker, Charlie Haden, Bobby Shew, Matt Wilson and Tim Hagans. He has been apart of several prominent local groups including Happy House, the Often Ensemble, the Orquestra de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz and the Grismore/Sizemore Band. Recently he traveled to Europe with the Orquestra Alto Maiz for performances at the Montreux and North Sea jazz festivals.

Sandy started playing trumpet while growing up in Indianola. After receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa he went on the road and then spent two years playing free-lance and studying in New York City, where he performed and recorded with the Planet Jazz Orchestra, Latin bands and various small groups. He has studied with leading jazz artists including Bob Washut and Paul Smoker. He has performed and recorded with a variety of musicians and groups and frequently plays for recording sessions.

Since his return to Iowa he has performed regularly with the Orchestra de Jazz y salsa Alto Maiz, with whom he toured to European jazz festivals last summer. Sandy teaches in a private studio in Iowa City and recently spent a semester in residence at Coe College. He performs and serves as a judge at jazz festivals in the Midwest.

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