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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 9, 2007

UI Faculty/Alumni Group Will Play 'Jazz That Doesn't Swing' Jan. 20

The oftEnsemble, a collective ensemble of University of Iowa faculty and alumni, will present "Jazz that doesn't Swing," at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.

John Rapson, the director of jazz studies at the UI, said the oftEnsemble was founded to bring together local jazz professionals "to play original work in an effort to connect the community with our students."

Membership of the group has changed over the years, but the oftEnsemble counts nine players for the Jan. 20 concert, all faculty or alumni of the UI jazz program: Brent Sandy, trumpet; Bob Thompson, alto sax; Chris Merz, tenor sax; Rich Medd, trombone; Steve Grismore, guitar; Rapson, piano; Greg Mazunik, electric bass; Jim Dreier, drums; and Paul Cunliffe, percussion.

The program, to be announced from the stage, will include Rapson's "Shelton's Sweetime, "Elizabeth" and "Bing"; Grismore's "Good God"; "The Source" by Chris Potter; "Sui Zen" by Chris Merz; and "Absolving Neophilia" a collage of two compositions, one by Bennie Maupin and the other by Jymmie Merritt.

"I have been doing a jazz radio program on Saturday nights for KSUI," Rapson commented. "One of my frequent segments is titled 'Jazz that Doesn't Swing' -- a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that much of what is being written and performed today is based on rhythms other than 'swing' rhythms. Our program will include material derived from Asia and the Caribbean as well as funk rhythms from James Brown and a European styled ballad. But we'll have a couple of tunes that actually do swing -- and swing hard."

OftEnsemble was formed in 1994 by UI graduates Tim O'Dell and Steve Grismore, as an opportunity for local professionals to write new music steeped in the jazz tradition and to play together in a larger ensemble.

Highlights of the band's past include the commission of "Sound Luminesce" by AT&T, which featured musicians in Tokyo performing live with oftEnsemble via fiber optics. More recently, the ensemble was featured on the album "Water and Blood: the Billy Higgins Improvisations" released by Nine Winds recordings.

Performances at the Englert Theatre are made possible by an agreement between the UI Division of Performing Arts and the Englert Theatre, Inc. Admission to the oftEnsemble concert Jan. 20 is $10 ($7 for seniors, $5 for students). Tickets are available from the Englert Box Office, 221 E. Washington in downtown Iowa City. The box office is open 1 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. For phone orders or additional ticket information, call the box office at 319-688-2653.

The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc., is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic theater. Visit the Englert's Web page, at

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 319-541-2846;