Oct. 30, 2007
Johnson County Landmark will explore 'Jazz Fusions' for Nov. 12 concert
The University of Iowa Johnson County Landmark jazz band will present a free concert of "Jazz Fusions" at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.
The concert will be under the direction of John Rapson, head of the jazz studies area in the UI School of Music.
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.
"Jazz fusion" usually describes the combination of improvisational jazz with other popular styles, and particularly the use of electric instruments from rock music and features of the rhythm & blues style.
Rapson explained: "Jazz has had a fluid interaction with different forms of popular music since Louis Jordan made an impact with 'rhythm and blues' in the 1940s. Since then we've had hard bop, boogaloos, jazz funk, rock fusion and pretty much any imaginable combination where musicians are working together.
"One of the centerpieces of this concert will be the music of Steely Dan as arranged by Fred Sturm for jazz orchestra. Well also have music of Thad Jones, who made his own forays into rock and roll in the 1970s, and we've put Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk into new 'garb'."
Here is the complete program for the concert:
-- "Marie's Shuffle" by Tom Kubis;
-- "Noogaloo" by Tim Hagans;
-- "Negative Girl," "I Got the News" and "Home at Last" by Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, arranged by Fred Sturm;
-- "Tutu" by Miles Davis/Marcus Miller, arranged by Bob Washut;
-- "Evidence" by Thelonious Monk, arranged by John Clayton;
-- "Weather, or Not" by John Rapson;
-- "Greetings and Salutations" by Thad Jones;
-- "Snakes" by David Sanborn; and
-- "Ruskatoonies MacAroonies" by Jonas Kulhammar
Steely Dan is a Grammy Award-winning American jazz rock band centered on core members Becker and Fagen. The band's peak of popularity was in the 1970s, when it released six albums that blended together elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B and pop. Their music is characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies, literate but sometimes obscure or ambiguous lyrics filled with dark sarcasm, and their adroit musicianship and studio perfectionism.
Sturm is the director of jazz and improvisational music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. He serves as guest conductor of professional jazz ensembles and radio orchestras in Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Norway; as director of university jazz ensembles and high school all-state jazz bands throughout the United States; as composer-in-residence for school and university music programs; as co-owner of Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps; and as composition/arranging resource team representative for the International Association for Jazz Education.
An alumnus of the UI, Sanborn grew up in Kirkwood, Mo. He suffered from polio in his youth and began playing the saxophone on a physician's advice to strengthen his chest muscles. He has played with a great array of well-known jazz, blues and pop artists, including Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers, David Bowie, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Donny Hathaway, Elton John, Gil Evans, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, The Eagles and Japanese pop star Utada Hikaru.
One of the key figures in the history of jazz, Miles Davis is often associated with jazz fusion. Davis never played rock or rhythm & blues, but his work intrigued a sizable segment of rock's more ambitious fans in a way that no other serious jazz figure had done. In particular, the boldly experimental sounds of Davis' groundbreaking 1969 album "Bitches Brew" attracted the attention of rock fans who had been following the Grateful Dead's improvisations.
Scott Yanow wrote for allmusic.com that Swedish jazz composer Jonas Kullhammer, "who is not known in the United States, is an outstanding player with very impressive technique, a lively and extroverted style and the ability to range from bop to free."
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. For more information on Rapson, see http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/JAZZrapson.htm.
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 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 http://www.englert.org/.
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 http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.
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