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Join IPR’s Steinway Café For A Tribute To String Bass Titans Of The 20th Century

The set list for the stream includes works by James "Jimmie" Blanton, Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Sam Jones, Charles Mingus, Ron Carter, Percy Heath and Christian McBride.

About The Set List

“Jack the Bear” by Duke Ellington

Several origin stories exist surrounding the song “Jack the Bear.” One refers to a couple of folk characters named Jack or John, who possessed miraculous abilities and could repair things for those in trouble.

According to Mark Tucker’s liner notes from Duke Ellington: The Blanton-Webster Band recording on the Bluebird label, the first ‘Jack the Bear’ “was a Harlem bass-player.”

“Tricotism” by Oscar Pettiford

This is a well-known self-styled bepop song.

“F.S.R.” by Ray Brown

British journalist Leonard Feather says that F.S.R. (For Sonny Rollins) began as a rehearsal of Rollins’ own “Doxy” on a record date with Milt Jackson. Brown said that the wrote this as a sort of pre-out chorus for ‘Doxy,’ and it came off so well that he made a separate tune out of it.

"Visitation” by Paul Chambers

“Visitation” is a 1957 tune that was part of Chambers’ album Chambers’ Music: A Jazz Delegation from the East which featured John Coltrane on saxophone.

"Little Waltz" by Ron Carter

Ron Carter’s well-known “Little Waltz” appeared on his second album called “Uptown Conversation” dating from 1969.

“Big P” by Jimmy Heath

Percy Heath’s brother, saxophonist Jimmy, composed “Big P” in tribute to his legendary brother, Percy.

“Unit Seven” by Sam Jones

One of his most celebrated charts called “Unit 7” was also known as “Cannon’s Theme.” Jones initially composed it in 1962 as an instrumental track for a Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley album.

“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Boogie Stop Shuffle” by Charles Mingus

Mingus recorded these works with his Sextet “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” initially in 1959 on his album Mingus Ah Um as a memorial to the peerless saxophonist Lester Young. It was also called an “Elegy to Lester Young.” Young, who was notorious for drinking and sporting a crunched-down wide-brimmed hat, passed away only a couple of months prior to the recording of this famous jazz standard by Mingus.

The UNI Jazz Faculty will present the mixed-meter 7 + 6 “Boogie Stop Shuffle” hard bop 12-bar blues tune, also composed by Mingus in 1959.

“Eighty One” by Ron Carter

“Eighty One” was composed by Carter in 1965 for the Miles Davis recording called E.S.P.Don Drotos from says “’Eighty One’ is a 12-bar blues with some twists and turns. The melody contains a few unpredictable rhythmic hits. The chord progression is also interesting and hints at the ways in which Carter ‘modernized’ the traditional blues chord progression.”The ensemble will also perform Carter’s well-known “Little Waltz” which appeared on his second album called “Uptown Conversation” dating from 1969.

“The Shade of the Cedar Tree” by Christian McBride

McBride’s “The Shade of the Cedar Tree” was originally included on his debut solo album called Gettin’ To It released in 1995 on Verve Records. McBride composed this swinging tune as a tribute to the remarkable jazz pianist Cedar Walton.

About The Performers

About Alex Pershounin

Alex Pershounin has performed and taught in both classical and jazz settings in Europe and the United States. In addition to serving as principal bass in the wcfsymphony and many other ensembles, he performs in his own band, known as the Alex Pershounin Jazz Trio.

Pershounin has presented as a performer and composer at international events such as the Montreux and Pori Jazz Festivals, Belgium’s Jazz Contest, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest. He has produced several discs and four full-length motion picture soundtracks.

He has performed with world-class musicians including Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Ray Charles, Benny Golson, Conrad Herwig, Mulgrew Miller, and Bob Berg.

Currently, Pershounin is UNI’s Instructor of String Bass and directs and coaches UNI’s Bass Studio. He received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Moscow, Russia’s prestigious Gnessins’ State Academy of Music. He went on to get a second master’s degree and his doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

About Chris Merz

Chris Merz is a master teacher, solo performer, published composer and arranger, recording producer, and a nationally sought guest soloist, clinician, and conductor. Merz has performed with the Brubeck family across the globe. He worked as a Lecturer of Jazz and Saxophone at the University of Natal in Durban and performed with South Africa jazz greats including Hugh Masekela, Winston Mankanku, and Barney Rachabane.

His albums consist of recordings with Darius Brubeck, Steve McCraven, John Rapson, and Jon Snell; including his own recordings: Counterculture, the Chris Merz/Bob Washut Duo, the X-tet, Equilateral, and his own band, Christopher’s Very Happy Band.

Merz composes and performs new works for his own band and performs in Michael Conrad’s new Big Band, Colossus Central.

He has served as the President for the Jazz Educators of Iowa (JEI) and in 2015, was inducted into the Iowa Jazz Educators’ Hall of Fame. He currently is the University of Northern Iowa’s Professor of Jazz Studies, Director of UNI’s esteemed Jazz Band One, and founded and directs UNI’s annual June Combo Camp for high school jazz students and educators.

About Anthony Williams

Anthony Williams performs the lead trombone of the Mike Waldrop Big Band with two original titles including “Origin Suite” and “Time Within Itself” and Jorge Sosa’s album, “Plastic Time,” with the “Grosso for Trombone and Electronics.” In addition to playing principal trombone in the wcfsymphony, Williams also plays jazz and commercial performances with The Des Moines Big Band, The Orquesta Alto Maiz, NOLA Jazz Band, and Big Fun. His debut solo album called “Synthesis,” featured five newly commissioned solo trombone works showcasing classical, Latin, and jazz music styles.

Williams serves as the Associate Professor of Trombone at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. He also teaches trombone, chamber music, trombone pedagogy, trombone literature, low brass technique, is a member of the UNI Jazz Faculty, and director of the UNI Jazz Trombone ensemble. Williams obtained his bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and his master’s degree at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Williams completed his doctorate at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

About Mike Conrad

Award-winning composer Mike Conrad has received four ASCAP Herb Albert Young Jazz Composer Awards, seven DownBeat Awards, honors and contracts from Germany’s Bundesjazzorchester, the West Point Jazz Knights, Ithaca College’s Jazz Composition Contest, and the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers. Conrad has appeared in China, performed in Italy at the Umbria Jazz Festival, and played in venues and jazz festivals all across America. He has performed with Dave Chisholm’s Calligraphy and the Alexa Tarantino Quintet.

One of Conrad’s works was performed at the 2013 U.S. Presidential Inauguration, and a year later, another work was premiered at Carnegie Hall. In 2017, Conrad joined in the Metropole Orchestra Arrangers Workshop with Vince Mendoza, which resulted in his final selection for the “Spheres Of A Genius” work competition with the Vienna Radio Symphony.

In addition to his compositional, trombone, and piano talents, Conrad performs with the Damani Philips and Jim Buennig Quintet and Christopher’s Very Happy. Band. Many of his compositions and arrangements are published by UNC Jazz Press, ejazzlines and his own website,

Conrad serves as UNI’s Assistant Professor of Jazz and Music Education and is the director of UNI’s Jazz Band 2. Conrad completed his bachelor of music and a bachelor of music education degrees at the University of Northern Iowa, his master of music degree at Eastman and his doctorate of arts degree at the University of Northern Colorado.

About Josh Hakanson

Josh Hakanson is a percussion musician, an adjunct UNI Instructor, and educator based in Cedar Falls, IA. On drum set, Hakanson has played professionally in the Northwest and Midwest in a range of musical styles, encompassing jazz, rock, hip-hop, and fusion. As a student and professional performer, he has made appearances with such musicians as Bobby Shew, Adam Kolker, John Wojciechowski, Luis Bonilla, Benny Green, Steve Owen, Idit Shner, Joe Manis, Bob Washut, Chris Merz, Dave Rezek, and Don Jaques. As an educator, he has taught private lessons to all ages, coached large and small collegiate jazz ensembles, and administered middle-and-high school level music clinics. Hakanson received his Master of Music in Jazz Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Northern Iowa.

About Tom Barry

Audio recording and sound reinforcement engineer, Tom Barry currently manages all audio recordings for the University of Northern Iowa. Previously, Barry was a UNI Professor of Music in oboe and saxophone performance, music technology, audio recording, guitar performing and served as UNI’s Jazz Band 2 director from 1989 to 1991. Barry served for 36 years as the wcf symphony’s principal oboe. Barry also currently performs saxophone with Checker and the Bluetones band in Cedar Falls.

Barry has served as concert and album sound technician for the Salsa Band, Orquesta Alto Maiz, and many other university, faculty, and professional artist recordings.

Barry received his bachelor and master degrees from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

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Jacqueline Halbloom is a Sr. Music Producer and Classical Music Host