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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 6, 2003

Iowa Composers, Arrangers Will Be Featured On JCL Jazz Concert Nov. 16

Iowa composers and arrangers will be well represented when Johnson County Landmark (JCL), the top jazz big band at the University of Iowa School of Music, gives a free concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert will be directed by Brent Sandy, the interim director of the group this fall. Sandy is filling in for John Rapson, UI director of jazz studies, who is currently on sabbatical leave.

Sandy said he chose his favorite composers and arrangers for the program. "Pieces composed or arranged by Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer, Charles Mingus and Alan Broadbent -- some of my favorite jazz artists -- are included throughout the program," he said.

"With them, we are featuring works by jazz composers who call Iowa their home: JCL pianist Evan Mazunik; Robert Washut, former director of jazz studies at the University of Northern Iowa, and current pianist/composer/arranger for Orquesta Alto Maiz; current UNI director of jazz studies Christopher Merz; and our own John Rapson."

Other featured musician on the program will be the UI School of Music's new visiting professor of low brass, David Spies, who will play tuba with JCL through the second half of the program, and James Dreier, a member of the UI jazz faculty, who will be featured on Latin percussion.

Mazunik will be represented on the program with "Status Quo," a new piece that incorporates "Soundpainting," a system of conducting/composing developed by Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, poets, actors and visual artists working in the medium of structured improvisation. At present this system includes a vocabulary of gestures made by the conductor/composer indicating the type of improvisation to be made by the performers.

Jazz Now columnist Chris Kelsey explained, "They say Duke Ellington played his orchestra as if it were an instrument. Walter Thompson does the same thing, but in a much more literal fashion... He improvises compositions with a big band as he would on a single instrument, with the same intelligence, sensitivity and sense of order."

The former and current UNI jazz directors each contribute an arrangement to the program: Washut's version of Ray Barretto's "Guarare," a Latin jazz favorite that has become a staple for the Orchesta Alto Maiz; and Merz's version of Harold Arlen's standard "Get Happy."

"Last, but not least," Sandy said, "will be the 2001 Jazz Composers Alliance/Julius Hemphill Composition award-winning "Riff Bass Bridge Head," composed by John Rapson. 'The Rap' has been on sabbatical this past semester, and JCL is pleased to bring this quirky, humorous, intense yet gentle piece to the stage for the first time since the award."

Other works on the program will be "Reunion at Newport" by Alan Broadbent; "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" by Charles Mingus and arranged by Jack Walrath; "Skylark" by Hoagy Carmichael, arranged by Bob Brookmeyer; "Blues For A Workshop" by Thad Jones; and Gil Evans' arrangement of "Maids of Cadiz" by Leo Delibes.

A major ensemble in the UI School of Music jazz program, 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.

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

Sandy, who joined the jazz faculty in 2000, is a jazz trumpet and flugelhorn performer, teacher and clinician. Sandy performs regularly with local jazz groups including the Orquesta Alto Maiz, the OddBar Trio and Equilateral. As a former member of the Orquesta Alto Maiz and Oddbar he has made seven CDs, toured Europe in 1998 and twice been featured on "Jazzset with Branford Marsalis" on National Public Radio. He is an educational specialist/clinician and Conn/Selmer and a Conn Vintage One artist with United Musical Instruments, a division of United Musical Instruments, USA, and serves on the board of directors of the Iowa City Jazz Festival.

Spies teaches euphonium and tuba, coaches brass chamber music and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet as a visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music. Spies served for seven years on the faculty of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, during which time he also taught at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

Spies is an active performer and teacher throughout the United States. In addition to numerous solo recitals, he has performed with the Fort Worth, Shreveport, Richardson, New Haven and Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestras, the Dallas Wind Symphony and the U.S. Coast Guard Band. As a freelance musician in Dallas-Fort Worth for nearly a decade, he has performed with popular artists including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, LeAnn Rimes, Roy Clark and James Taylor. An active chamber musician as well, Spies has performed with the New York Woodwind Quintet, Meridian Arts Ensemble and the Canadian Brass.

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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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,