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Release: March 4, 1999

UI Percussion Ensemble CD includes new versions of music from '50s best-seller

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Music from a 1950s hit recording has been recreated on a new CD, featuring members of the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble and its director, Dan Moore. The new CD, "Jungle Fever: Dan Moore Plays the Music of Dick Schory," has recently been released on the Ovation Records label.

The recording celebrates the accomplishments of Iowa native Schory and his Percussion Pops Orchestra, who made several popular recordings in the 1950s and early '60s including the1958 best-selling "Music for Bang, Barroom, and Harp."

The new recording is the culmination of three years of work by Moore, an assistant professor and head of percussion at the UI School of Music. It includes re-creations of many of Schory's original compositions, selected from seven records made between 1957 and 1969, as well as "Jungle Fever," the first new percussion score Schory has written in more than 20 years. Some works on the CD were performed just as Schory wrote them in the 1950s, while others have been arranged by Moore.

Performers include Moore and members of the UI Percussion Ensemble, along with guest artists Brent Sandy, trumpet; Pamela Weest-Carrasco, harp; Alexandre Lunsqui, piano; Anton Hatwich, bass; James Dreier, drums; and Nate Basinger, MIDI keyboards. Schory is also featured on the CD's first track, talking about "The Schory Sound" and the original recordings.

The CD was recorded by the UI Recording Studios and recording engineer Lowell Cross, UI professor of music and director of the studios.

Though out of print now for many years, Schory's "Music for Bang, Barroom and Harp" and the 12 other Percussion Pops recordings figure significantly in the history of American music. "Bang, Barroom" was one of the first albums of any kind to be recorded as a demonstration for stereo sound in the 1950s. Stereo was able to provide a spatial awareness of sound that could not be heard in the monaural recordings of the day, and the music of Schory's recordings was intended to emphasize the dynamic space and time possibilities of a percussion orchestra.

"Bang, Barroom" became a bestseller in the '50s, largely because audio show rooms used it for demonstrations of the first stereo equipment. In 1959 it spent 26 weeks on the Billboard Top 40 charts.

It was also one of the best recorded albums of all time, according to Audiophile Magazine, which put the record in its top 10 list of best-engineered recordings ever.

"This album set the trend for 10 years in the record industry," Moore says. "Everybody in the industry copied "Bang, Barroom" in one way or another, from the playful album covers to the instruments used. Before Schory, percussion in America was relegated mainly to the realm of new music, done for art audiences by composers like John Cage and Harry Partch. Schory brought percussion -- as well as himself -- into the world of pop music."

Schory is a drummer, conductor and arranger as well as record producer. He was a percussion band leader and later worked in Hollywood producing movie soundtracks. Schory's varied career includes a stint with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He was a major figure in popular music in the 1950s and '60s. His Percussion Pops Orchestra played to sold-out audiences from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. The group toured -- and sold out -- for 15 years. Schory is known for playful experimentation in percussion, using drums, xylophones, specialty sounds, just about anything that could be struck to make sound.

Members of Schory's Percussion Pops Orchestra have included many well-known jazz musicians over the years including Tom Davis, Moore's predecessor on the UI faculty and for many years the head of jazz studies at the UI; Joe Morello, who was Dave Brubeck's drummer; and Gary Burton on vibes.

An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic and multi-percussion, he is considered a "total percussionist."

As a soloist, Moore has developed a unique new style of marimba performance, using a MIDI set-up that allows him to create layers of electronically triggered and natural acoustic sounds. For the past 12 years he has toured as a member of the Britain/Moore Duo, whose CD "Cricket City" has been described by Pan-lime Magazine as "a brilliant collage of pan-marimba pieces." He is a performing artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America, Sabian Ltd., and Innovative Percussion. He has written for Jazz Player, Sticks and Mallets and Percussive Notes magazines.

Lowell Cross came to the UI in 1971 as assistant professor of music and director of the UI Recording Studios and the VIDEO/LASER project. His laser work at the UI included the creation of a light show to accompany a 1975 performance of Scriabin's "Prometheus: Poem of Fire" in Hancher Auditorium. Cross repeated his light show in 1983 in Carnegie Hall, with the Baltimore Symphony.

In 1987, when digital technology virtually took over the recording industry, Cross immediately began upgrading the equipment in the facility. Today the Recording Studios represent the state of the digital recording art. More than 50 commercial compact discs have been recorded, edited, produced, or mastered under Cross's care.

"Jungle Fever: Dan Moore Plays the Music of Dick Schory" is available from Moore in the School of Music, at (319) 335-1632 or by e-mail at It is also available from Real Compact Discs and Records, located at 132 1/2 Washington St. in Iowa City.

A grant to the UI School of Music, the Percussion Ensemble and its director, Dan Moore, from the Central Investment Fund for Research Enhancement (CIFRE) and the Arts and Humanities Initiative (AHI) at the UI helped cover the cost of recording and distributing the CD.