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Release: Oct. 3, 2002

Johnson County Landmark Offers 'Old Wine, New Bottles,' Oct. 19

Johnson County Landmark, the top big band at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present its first concert of the 2002-03 season at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. The concert, titled "Old Wine, New Bottles," will be free and open to the public.

A major student 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. Directed by John Rapson, JCL has the standard big-band instrumentation, with full sections of reed, brass and rhythm instruments.

The Oct. 19 concert features works of the great Iowa jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, along with works by Duke Ellington, Oliver Nelson, "Jelly Roll" Morton and Charlie Mingus, among others. Clarinetist Robert Paredes from the jazz faculty will be featured on the concert as guest artist.

Beiderbecke was a Davenport native who learned jazz in the clubs in Chicago in the 1920s. As a player he was known for his lyrical solos and bell-like tone. His "In a Mist," which features unusual impressionistic harmonic colorings, will be played in an arrangement by French pianist and composer Michael Legrand. Legrand, who studied at the Paris Conservatory with the famous teacher Nadia Boulanger, produced arrangements for Miles Davis, Ben Webster, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughn, and Phil Woods, among others.

Another Beiderbecke tune, "Davenport Blues," will be played in a version by prominent jazz arranger Gil Evans.

Paredes will be featured in John Carisi's "The Bulgar and Other Balkan Type Inventions," which was commissioned by the clarinetist Benny Goodman for his 1962 tour of the Soviet Union. Carisi played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra from late 1942, and also wrote for small ensembles and other solo performers. "The Bulgar" was written with drummer Mel Lewis -- who was with Goodman's tour -- in mind, and features a duo between clarinet and drums.

JCL will play "Jelly Roll" Morton's "King Porter Stomp," as completely re-arranged by Gil Evans. Morton, the self-avowed "creator of jazz," grew up in New Orleans in the early 1900s and traveled widely as a pianist and bandleader. He claims to have written "King Porter Stomp" in 1908, making it the first jazz composition to be notated.

Among other works on the program, JCL will open with Frank Foster's arrangement of the Duke Ellington standard, "In a Mellotone." Foster's interpretation of this work reflects his experience playing in, and arranging for, Count Basie's Big Band, where his be-bop oriented solos and inventive arrangements were considered integral to the band's success.

"Everything Happens to Me" is recognized by most audiences as one of the standards in Frank Sinatra's repertoire. JCL will play a version by Kim Richmond that features alto saxophone.

Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" was written in 1960 and was originally recorded on "Blues and the Abstract Truth," one of the best known albums in jazz. JCL will also play Nelson's arrangement of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," which modernizes one of the first jazz compositions with the "cool" harmonies of the '50s and early '60s.

Charles Mingus' "Gunslinging Bird" will conclude the concert. Steve Slagle wrote this arrangement for the current Mingus Big Band, where he is also the lead alto saxophonist. The JCL performance will feature several soloists, including UI jazz faculty member Brent Sandy on trumpet.

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 group's 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."

Robert Paredes has been described as "one of the hidden greats of the American experimental tradition." He received a doctorate in composition from the UI after studies with the experimental composer Kenneth Gaburo, and has been and artist-in-residence at several schools and organizations. He is an experienced jazz and studio musician, an accomplished Klezmer clarinetist, and a former member of the Harry Partch Ensemble.

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.

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. 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.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.