University of Iowa News Release
Release: April 11, 2002
UI Johnson County Landmark Jazz Band Performs Music By Big Band Masters April 26
Johnson County Landmark jazz band from the University of Iowa School of Music will help wrap up the 2002-03 academic year with a free concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 26 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The concert, under the direction of John Rapson, will offer the band's usual mix of big-band classics by jazz masters with newer works by UI students and others. Among the musician/composers represented on the concert are Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron, Lennie Tristano, Gerry Mulligan, Maria Schneider and UI graduate student Evan Mazunik.
A major ensemble in the UI School of Music jazz program, Johnson County Landmark (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. Several pieces on the April 26 concert are featured below.
The concert will open with Dizzy Gillespie's "One Bass Hit," a piece that was written in the late 1940s as a solo for legendary bassist Ray Brown. It was written at a time when Gillespie had a big band that tried to employ all of the innovations of the bebop era into a large ensemble.
Next on the program is Bob Brookmeyer's "American Express." Brookmeyer may be best known as the valve trombonist who played in the famous Gerry Mulligan Quartet, but he also was a mainstay in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band that has held forth at the Village Vanguard in New York since the late 1960s, now known simply as the Vanguard Orchestra. Brookmeyer has since become a staff arranger and conductor for German State radio bands and a legendary composition teacher.
Tadd Dameron was a musician's musician who had one of the top jazz orchestras in the late 1950s and early '60s, but who's poor business skills undermined the group's success. John Coltrane recorded an entire album of Dameron's music -- "Mating Call" -- and Dameron was a favorite of both Gillespie and Fats Navarro. JCL will play Dameron's "Our Delight."
Mazunik will be represented on the program with his original work "Incandescent," which is composed in a "through-composed" motivic style -- that is, without melodic repeats or the usual repeated-chorus structure of many jazz and pop tunes.
Kim Richmond is well known to Iowa City audiences for the many appearances he has made as a saxophonist here and for the work he does on behalf of the UI Summer Jazz Camp every year. Like many collegiate and professional ensembles, JCL has performed and recorded his works as staples of the repertoire. They will perform his "Chic-a-Brac" and his arrangement of Victor Young's "Street of Dreams."
Closing out the program will be Schneider's "Wyrgly." One of Gil Evans' best-known pupils, Schneider has been leading her own jazz orchestra in New York City for more than 15 years. "Wyrgly" comes from her first album, "Evanesence," and is loosely meant to portray an imaginary monster.
JCL 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. 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."
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 they differ in stylistic formats from experimental compositions to traditional repertoires.
Rapson has been director of jazz studies at the UI School of Music for 10 years. 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 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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