CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 14, 2000
(NOTE TO EDITORS: A picture and more information on Maria Schneider can be
found on the world-wide web at <http://www.enjarecords.com/MARIA_SCHNEIDER.htm.>)
Music by John Rapson and Maria Schneider will be featured by JCL April
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Johnson County Landmark, the top big band in the jazz
program at the University of Iowa School of Music, will perform music by John
Rapson, the band's leader, and Maria Schneider, a native Minnesotan now working
in the New York jazz scene, on a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 26
in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
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.
JCL's core repertory includes music from the classic big-band repertoire,
by masters including Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones and Oliver
Nelson, and that is the music they have featured most often in recent concerts.
This time Rapson decided it was time to do something he had not before --
feature his own music -- and introduce the music of an important contemporary
voice on the jazz scene.
"I tell my bands that we will do the whole history of jazz," Rapson
said. "That not only includes Jelly Roll Morton and Fletcher Henderson
but also Carla Bley and Maria Schneider and Vinny Golia and Walter Thompson
-- anything that has been done by professional musicians on watershed recordings.
So in addition to the 'older' repertory material, we have also -- each year
-- tried to feature a cutting edge musician.
"I'm sneaking my own material in, one because it's now done -- I've
had extra time this year to write -- and two, because the students are having
fun playing it. It's an aggressive program and the students have enjoyed the
challenge of preparing it."
The program will include three works from Schneider's album "Evanescence"
-- "Wyrgly," "Evanescence" and "Gush" -- and
four works by Rapson -- "Riff Bass Bridge Head," "Virile (for
McCoy Tyner)," "Paradox" and "Glide."
Schneider has led her own band in New York since 1989. Her music career started
at the age of five when she heard stride jazz pianist Evelyn Butler. "Smitten
from the first moment I heard her lay into a keyboard, I had to study with
her," Schneider has said. "Over the next 13 years she whetted my
curiosity for how music works by teaching me classical and jazz theory from
lesson one. For me, she was Wisdom's most treasured resource."
While picking up a degree in theory and composition from the University of
Minnesota, Schneider developed an admiration for the great jazz composers
the eventually led her to the University of Miami and the Eastman School for
jazz studies. Pursuing her interest in jazz, she moved to New York and sought
out Bob Brookmeyer as a mentor. "Bob's ingenuity, his ideas about minimizing
materials and developing a sense for form, and the wonderful spirit and drama
of his music opened a new world," Schneider said.
Her New York connections next gave Schneider an opportunity to work with
legendary jazz arranger and pianist Gil Evans on several projects, including
the film score for "The Color of Money" and arrangements for Sting's
European concert with the Gil Evans Orchestra. "Gil's spirit and music
are part of me, and our relationship is one I'll always treasure," she
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 for artistic merit in Grammophone 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"
His professional career began in Los Angeles, where he formed an octet and
performed with some of the leading jazz artists for both recording dates and
live performances. He worked with some of the leading jazz artists on the
West Coast, including Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Tim Berne and Bill Frisell.
While he continued to record and perform on the jazz circuit, Rapson also
taught music theory and composition at Westmont College in Santa Barbara for
10 years. He later taught jazz at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He performed
extensively on the East Coast, including recording sessions with Anthony Braxton,
Doc Cheatham, David Murray and Julius Hemphill.
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 1991 the group was selected the best band in its
class at the 25th annual Wichita Jazz Festival in 1991. Since then, individual
members of JCL have continued to win major awards and contests. In 1994, members
of the group took top awards in the International Trumpet Guild's Jazz Competition
and the Jazz Composition Competition sponsored by California State University
at San Diego.
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'
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. Learn about Maria Schneider at http://www.enjarecords.com/MARIA_SCHNEIDER.htm.