CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 19, 1999
Johnson County Landmark includes Ellington tribute in free
concert March 29
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Johnson County Landmark (JCL), the jazz
repertory big band at the University of Iowa School of Music,
will pay tribute to a great American composer, welcome back an
alumnus, and feature the work of a Los Angeles studio composer,
all in one concert at 8 p.m. Monday, March 29 in Clapp Recital
Hall on the UI campus.
The performance, under the direction of John Rapson, will be
free and open to the public.
The tribute will be to Duke Ellington, considered by many to
be America's greatest composer, whose 100th birthday will be
exactly one month after the concert, on April 29.
The alumnus will be drummer Eric Thompson, who played in JCL
in 1993-94 and now has his own quartet in the Boston, Mass.,
area. Thompson and his quartet will perform separately in the
Iowa City area, with appearances at the Sanctuary Restaurant
in Iowa City on Friday and Saturday,
March 26 and 27, and a free clinic on jazz performance at 1:30
p.m. Monday, March 29 in the Opera Rehearsal Room of the UI Voxman
And the featured studio composer will be Kim Richmond, whose
"Passages" was premiered by JCL and Thompson in 1993.
A reprise of "Passages," performed by the current JCL
personnel with Thompson on drums, will be the centerpiece of
The program will open and close with references -- both direct
and indirect -- to Ellington's influence. As one of the greatest
jazz composers, Ellington has consistently been a major part
of JCL's repertory. Last December the band performed for a choreographed
version of Ellington's "Nutcracker" to a standing-room-only
audience in Clapp Recital Hall, then had to repeat the performance
to a second full house a few days later.
The March 20 concert will open with two of the signature tunes
of Ellington's band: probably the most famous single piece from
the Duke's repertoire, Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train,"
and Ellington's "In A Mellow Tone." They will be followed
by Strayhorn's "Isfahan," a striking ballad from the
Ellington/Strayhorn "Far East Suite" that was made
famous by the sax solos of the legendary Johnny Hodges in the
The final two works on the program will acknowledge Ellington's
influence in another way: "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"
by Charles Mingus, who loved Ellington's music and became famous
as a jazz bass player; and "Mingus" by bassist Chuck
Israel, which traces the line of influence and veneration into
Drummer Eric Thompson joined JCL in 1993 at the same time that
Rapson became director of jazz studies at the UI School of Music.
He played with the group for two years and was the drummer on
JCL's first CD recording, "Been There, Done That."
He has been living in Boston for the past three years, attending
the Thelonious Monk Institute at the New England Conservatory
and working with prominent east-coast jazz artists.
Thompson's quartet is currently touring the Midwest. They will
appear with Thompson on the JCL concert, playing an original
composition, "Starsky and Hutch," and return for a
surprise finale with JCL.
Richmond was recently in Iowa City with trumpeter Clay Jenkins
to present clinics for university and high school students. They
both performed with JCL at the Southeastern Iowa Bandmasters
annual jazz festival, held at Iowa City West High. Richmond's
music has been played by the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Bob Florence
Big Band, the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Jim Widmer
Big Band, in addition to his own 21-piece orchestra.
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.
The ensemble 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.
The group's most recent 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
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 differs in stylistic formats from
experimental compositions to traditional repertoires.
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 in for artistic merit
Gramophone magazine's "Good CD Guide" for jazz recordings,
which also called it "beautiful and unique."
Previous albums under Rapson's direction are "Bing"
for Sound Aspects, and "Buwah" and "Deeba dah
bwee" for Nine Winds. He has also recorded "A Mingus
Among Us" and "Been There, Done That" with Johnson
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web
site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.