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Release: Oct. 20, 2000

JCL features faculty, alumni playing Brazilian music Nov. 4

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Alumni and faculty of the University of Iowa School of Music will help Johnson County Landmark jazz band celebrate the stimulating musical bridge between Iowa and Brazil in a free concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

A major ensemble of the School of Music, Johnson County Landmark (JCL) has the standard big-band instrumentation of reeds, brass and rhythm instruments. JCL performs under the direction of John Rapson, director of jazz studies at the UI.

In the Nov. 4 concert JCL will perform with Rafael Dos Santos, a UI alumnus and chair of the department of popular music at the Universidade de Campinas in Brazil, and members of his quintet from Brazil. Clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead, a member of the UI School of Music faculty, will be a guest soloist, as will drummer Jim Dreier, another UI alumnus who recently joined the jazz faculty at the School of Music. The program will feature music from Brazil.

All of the performers have worked together before. When he was a student at the UI,
Dos Santos was pianist for JCL for three years and a teaching assistant in jazz studies for four years. He has recorded two CDs of Brazilian "choros" -- a Brazilian form of improvisational popular music -- with Mead. He and Dreier have performed and toured together, including a residency at the music conservatory in Recife, Brazil.

"Rafael is a consummate performer, an effervescent spirit and a judicious leader," Rapson said. "When he was a graduate assistant, it was in truth like having another faculty colleague.

"We have worked together over the past seven years to bring Iowa musicians to Brazil and Brazilian musicians to Iowa. We have a commitment to each other to share the music of each other’s cultures and to create new material that builds on those traditions."

Other musicians from Brazil visiting the UI with Dos Santos are Rodrigo Ursaia (tenor saxophone), Marcos Souza (bass) and Rogerio Boccato (drums). The Brazilians will be on the UI campus for a week’s residency at the School of Music before the concert. Mead and Dos Santos will also present at UI faculty/guest recital at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 in Clapp Recital Hall.

The Nov. 4 JCL concert will feature four of Dos Santos’ compositions, along with works by other Brazilian composers. Characteristic Brazilian styles will be featured, including the choros, a broad genre of popular music that combines a nostalgic lyricism reminiscent of Tin Pan Alley with qualities analogous to the traditional jazz of New Orleans. Already popular at the turn of the last century, the choro reached its apex in the 1940s, and today is considered almost a classical genre of Brazilian music.

One of the most familiar Brazilian musical styles, the samba will also be featured on the program. Originally a street music, the samba has been made wildly popular through the Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro. Samba "schools" participate in the Carnival parades with extravagant floats, opulent costumes and large batteries of percussion instruments.

The program highlights a remarkable and ongoing connection between the UI School of Music and Brazil. Many School of Music faculty members have played and taught in Brazil, including Rapson, Mead, violinist Leopold La Fosse and pianist Rene Lecuona. The presence of the UI faculty in Brazil has also attracted a large number of Brazilian students to the School of Music.
In addition, two current members of the School of Music faculty are from Brazil -- bassoonist Benjamin Coelho and his brother, flutist Tadeu Coelho. The north-south exchange continues to enrich both the UI School of Music and the musical life of Brazil.

JCL, a repertory ensemble devoted to the performance of original jazz compositions, has been performing at the UI since the 1960s. Made up largely of students in the UI School of Music majoring in performance or in the jazz area, the group has traveled to jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, picking up awards on both sides of the Atlantic. JCL tours throughout the Midwest. In addition to its free concerts on the UI campus, JCL makes frequent appearances at clubs in Iowa City.

Dos Santos received a doctorate in piano performance from the UI in 1997. While at the UI, he formed and led the Bons Amigos Piano Trio, which included Dreier on drums. In addition to his time with JCL, he performed regularly with the Iowa Jazztet, a jazz sextet made up of faculty and graduate students of the UI School of Music. He was selected teaching assistant of the year at the UI in 1996.

Mead is in her 18th year teaching clarinet on the faculty of the UI School of Music, where she is also associate director for graduate studies. Her many solo invitations have included International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop and the conference of the College Band Directors National Association. As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other ensembles. She and Dos Santos have recently completed their second CD, "Red Hot and Brazilian," which is due to be released in the spring of 2001.

An Iowa native and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Dreier holds a master's degree in music theory from the UI. He is a founding member of the popular local Latin jazz group "Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz" (The tall corn jazz and salsa orchestra), which has released three CD recordings and was a featured group at the 1997 conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators in Chicago.

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.

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