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March 2, 2006

ICN Connected Iowa Schools With Mingus Big Band In Hancher

Students from a dozen Iowa schools tapped the expertise of the Mingus Big Band in a Feb. 21 Iowa Communications Network (ICN) event originating on the stage of the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium.

Members of the Mingus band conducted a jazz clinic with 18 UI students before a live audience, and also interacted in real-time audio and video with students in ICN classrooms throughout the state.

The Mingus Big Band, the living legacy of influential bassist, composer, bandleader and civil rights activist Charles Mingus, performed that night in Hancher as part of the UI celebration of Black History Month.

Time Out New York called the Mingus Big Band "the hippest big band in the universe," and that label reflects the band's combination of awesome chops and playful attitude. There is nothing staid and formal about this aggregation of jazz virtuosos. As The New York Times put it, they perform Mingus' music "the brawling, muscular, hard-swinging, bluesy way he wanted it played."

Both JazzTimes and Down Beat critics and readers have voted the Mingus Big Band the "Best Big Band" for several years running, and in June 1999 the New York Jazz Awards honored the band as both the "Best Big Band" and the "Best Touring Band." JazzTimes has gone so far as to proclaim the Mingus Big Band "the smokingest big band on the planet."

The ICN is the nation's only publicly owned, statewide fiber-optic network, which connects schools, libraries and government agencies, giving Iowans in all parts of the state interactive access to Iowa's educational, legal and governmental resources. Hancher has been an ICN originating site for more than a decade.

ICN participants:

--CEDAR RAPIDS: Kennedy High School -- 17 students.

--GARWIN: Garwin High School - 4 students.

--GLENWOOD: Glenwood High School - 15 students.

--HARLAN: Harlan High School - 3 students.

--LYNNVILLE: Lynnville-Sully High School -- 5 students.

--MALVERN: Malvern High School -- 15 students.

--TREYNOR: Treynor High School -- 10 students.

--UNDERWOOD: Underwood High School -- 21 students.

--VAN METER: Van Meter High School 20 students.

--WOODBINE: Woodbine High School 23 students.

Live audience:

--Shirley Abdo (home school): 5 students.

--CEDAR RAPIDS: Franklin Middle School: 22 students.

--WEST BRANCH: West Branch Middle School: 13 students.

--UI SCHOOL OF MUSIC: 10 students.

Hancher's 2005-06 ICN events are sponsored by the Herbert A. and Janice A. Wilson Arts Education Fund, West Music and the annual giving program known as Hancher Circle.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu