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Release: April 5, 2002

Guests from West Coast jazz scene join JCL for April 20 concert

Johnson County Landmark, the top big band of the University of Iowa School of Music, will welcome two leading West Coast musicians -- trombonist Michael Vlatkovich and drummer Chris Garcia -- as guest artists for a free concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Johnson County Landmark (JCL), under director John Rapson, will play six of the newest compositions by Vlatkovich, who has been called "a musician who knows no bounds" by the Los Angeles Times.

"Mike is, at one and the same time, a craftsman and an innovator," Rapson commented. "He takes chances, but he also knows what he's asking of the performers. And he knows how to be pensive on the one hand while concocting hilarity on the other."

Other works on the program will be works from JCL's core repertory of jazz classics, including pieces by Duke Ellington and Bob Brookmeyer, as well as a composition by Los Angeles composer Kim Richmond, who will be a guest at this summer's All State Jazz Camp, and an arrangement by UI alumnus Chris Merz from UNI.

Vlatkovich and Garcia are currently on tour around the country, which is what brought them to the Midwest. "Mike and I met first in the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble where we worked in a section with Bruce Fowler and Phil Teele -- former members of the Toshiko Akioshi band." Rapson said. "Its wonderful that he and Chris can come through as part of their tour."

Vlatkovich, a professional trombonist, composer and arranger, is considered one of the leading talents among Los Angeles improvisational players. Located on the West Coast since 1973, he is an emotionally charged performer, comfortable in a variety of jazz and world-music styles. He has performed extensively in the United States, Canada and Europe.

In addition to leading his own diverse ensembles, Vlatkovich has performed with a wide array of singers and instrumentalists including Peggy Lee, Brian Setzer, Bryan Adams, Bobby Bradford, Gerry Hemingway, Rob Blakeslee and Rich Halley, among many others. He has also performed on sound tracks for a variety of television and film projects including "The Mask," "Jingle All The Way," and the critically acclaimed John Cassavettes film "The Tempest."

Vlatkovich has received numerous critical accolades. The Weekly Alibi recently commented, "Trombonist/composer Michel Vlatkovich has a knack for leaving just the right loose ends loose and weaving others into knots that are almost impossible to unravel. His arrangements are characteristically sparse -- sometimes startingly so -- but the depths of his imagination are so densely

packed with the new and the fresh that listening to Vlatkovich blow is to hear improvisational jazz for the first time, every time."

Garcia was born, raised, and still resides in East Los Angeles. His background includes performances in a wide variety of musical settings including jazz, rock, world music, traditional Mexican music, percussion ensemble, soundtracks and cartoon music. He attributes his versatile style to "listening to EVERYTHING," while logging thousands of hours practicing, rehearsing, performing and touring with throughout the United States, Canada and Southeast Asia with a diverse array of musicians and groups.

He has been the drummer/percussionist of several critically acclaimed ensembles including Continuum; Quarteto Nuevo, a world music improvising chamber ensemble; The Michael Vlatkovich Ensembles; The Jihad Racy, a world music trio; and the World Music Percussion Quartet.

Cadence Jazz Magazine described Garcia as "an excellent percussionist (who) really pushes the group, especially in the solo sections."

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. In 1998, JCL's performance of Ellington's "Nutcracker" arrangements with choreography by UI dance students was performed to standing-room-only audiences and had to be repeated to meet demand for tickets.

In recent years the group has collaborated with leading jazz artists, including their concerts in 2001 with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow. The group's 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."

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 for artistic merit in Grammophone magazine's "Good CD Guide" for jazz recordings, which also called it "beautiful and unique."

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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