University of Iowa News Release
April 5, 2006
Carmen Bradford Will Headline UI 'Tribute to Count Basie' April 20
The jazz department at the University of Iowa School of Music will present "A Tribute to Count Basie with Carmen Bradford," featuring the Grammy-Award winning jazz vocalist and two of the school's big bands, as well as jazz musicians from Iowa City West High School, at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20 in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.
Bradford, a much-recorded singer and dedicated teacher who was featured vocalist with the Basie band for nine years, will perform with Johnson County Landmark, the top jazz band at the UI School of Music, under the direction of John Rapson.
Also appearing on the program will be the Iowa City West High School Jazz Ensemble directed by Rich Medd and the UI Jazz Repertory Ensemble directed by Brent Sandy.
Hailed as "an obvious heir to the Sarah-Ella throne" and "a virtual tornado of talent and imagination" by Christopher Loudon in JazzTimes Magazine, Bradford has performed with a remarkable roster of jazz legends. Not only was she hired personally by Basie for his band, she has sung with Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock, Lou Rawls, Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, James Brown, George Benson, Doc Severinsen, Willie Nelson, Lena Horne, Regina Carter, Patti Austin, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Joe Williams and many others.
Today she splits her time between solo performance and teaching at music camps for high-school and college students, and as a member of the jazz faculty at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music.
The West High School Jazz Ensemble will open the program with Rapson's arrangement of Edgar Sampson's "Stompin' at the Savoy," followed by arrangements of Pat Metheny's "Another Life" and Harold Arlen's "Get Happy."
The UI Jazz Repertory Ensemble will complete the first half of the concert, playing "Makin' Whoopee" by Gus Kahn, "Fats" Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," Arlen's "Come Rain Or Come Shine" and "Fantail" by Neil Hefti.
Bradford and Johnson County Landmark will take the stage for the second half of the concert. Their program, drawing from the Basie repertoire, will include:
-- "Corner Pocket" by Freddie Green, arranged by Basie;
-- Rogers and Hart's "This Can't Be Love," arranged by Bill Holman;
-- "Bye Bye Blackbird" by Dixon and Henderson;
-- Michel Legrand 's "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" arranged by Frank Foster;
-- "My Shining Hour" by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, arranged by David Springfield; and
-- Basie's arrangement of Vernon Duke's "April in Paris."
Born in Austin, Texas and raised in Altadena, Calif., Bradford is the daughter of legendary trumpeter/composer Bobby Bradford and vocalist Melba Joyce. After joining the Basie Band in the 1980s, she performed on two Grammy Award-winning albums, and later collaborated on a third Grammy Award-winning album, "Big Boss Band", with guitarist George Benson in 1991. Their celebrated performance of that classic duet, "How Do You Keep The Music Playing?" on the Johnny Carson Show that same year brought Bradford before a larger public.
Her solo career took off with her critically acclaimed debut album "Finally Yours" in 1992. Her follow-up solo release "With Respect" in 1995, established Bradford as an unusually diverse jazz singer. She teamed with singer Kenny Rankin for the Benny Carter Songbook Project. Her performance on "The Benny Carter Song Book" marked her fourth studio collaboration that would earn a Grammy.
Bradford has also on occasion lent her voice to the music of Hollywood films: she sang on the haunting soundtrack for Oprah Winfrey's "Beloved," on Dori Caymmi's modern re-working of legendary movie theme songs entitled "Cinema."
"Home With You," a warm collection of piano/vocal duets with pianist Shelly Berg, is Bradford's latest solo recording. The album is yet another departure for the singer, offering her fans a stripped down, intimate portrait of the artist. At present she performs in support of her duets album with Berg and with her trio, and still performs with the legendary big-bands: Doc Severinsen and his Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and others.
The Jazz Repertory Ensemble is one of three big bands, and at least 10 combos of varying size, supported by the jazz studies area of the UI School of Music. Based on the standard big-band instrumentation, it has full sections of reed, brass and rhythm instruments. Made up largely of students in the UI School of Music, the Jazz Repertory Ensemble performs works by established jazz masters as well as new works by UI students and other jazz composers.
Johnson County Landmark (JCL) is a repertory ensemble devoted to the performance of original compositions by jazz masters. JCL's current repertory includes the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Oliver Nelson, along with new works by students in the jazz studies area at the UI. In 1998, JCL's performance of Ellington's "Nutcracker" arrangements with choreography by UI dance students was performed to standing-room-only audiences and had to be repeated to meet demand for tickets.
JCL tours throughout the Midwest. In addition to its free concerts on the UI campus, JCL makes frequent appearances at clubs in Iowa City. In recent years the group has collaborated with leading jazz artists, including their concerts in 2001 with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow.
Rapson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music as director of jazz studies in 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 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."
From 1980 to 1990 Rapson was a professor of theory/composition at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. During his tenure at Westmont he founded a jazz program and continued to work professionally with musicians he had met in Los Angeles. His concerts and recordings include both mainstream and experimental sessions with John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Kim Richmond, Clay Jenkins and Alex Cline.
In 1990 Rapson moved to the east coast to pursue a doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University and performed with musicians from Boston and New York. His doctoral thesis deals with the cultural analysis of jazz transmission and performance practice of student musicians in public education. His collaborations while in the east include performances or recordings with Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, Doc Cheatham, Ed Blackwell, Jay Hoggard and Allen Lowe.
Sandy, who joined the jazz faculty in 2000, is a jazz trumpet and flugelhorn performer, teacher and clinician. Sandy performs regularly with local and regional jazz groups including the OddBar Trio, the Grismore Scea Group and Equilateral. As a former member of the Orquesta Alto Maiz and Oddbar he has made seven CDs, toured Europe in 1998 and twice been featured on "Jazzset with Branford Marsalis" on National Public Radio. He is an educational specialist/clinician for Conn/Selmer and a Conn Vintage One trumpet and flugelhorn artist.
Medd is chair of the Music Department at West High School. Under his direction the Jazz Band has won the Iowa Jazz Championship in Des Moines, the Wind Ensemble has consistently received the top ranking at state festivals, and the West High School band program has tripled in size. Medd previously taught at Northwest Junior High and Kirkwood Elementary in Iowa City for six years. He received a bachelor's degree in music education from the UI with distinction in 1986. He serves as adjudicator and guest conductor throughout eastern Iowa, having conducted at the UI All-State Music Camp and several district honor bands, as well as the Iowa City Community Band.
Performances at the Englert Theatre are made possible by an agreement between the UI Division of Performing Arts and the Englert Theatre, Inc. The series of 11 performances, from both the School of Music and the Dance Department, continues through the 2005-06 academic year.
Admission to "A Tribute to Count Basie" will be $15 and$10; $8 and 5 for UI students and youth. Tickets are available from the Englert Box Office, 221 E. Washington in downtown Iowa City. The box office is open 1p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. For 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.
The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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